Big labor unions are fighting for a bill to further erode democracy in union elections. The greatly misnomered “Employee Free Choice Act” would squash secret-ballot elections to determine whether a majority of employees at a particular workplace favors unionization. Instead of enjoying the privacy and security of secret ballots, employees could unionize simply by signing cards saying that they want a union. This card-check process, as it’s known, would make it easier for union bosses to harass and intimidate workers who don’t sign.
Unions say they favor the measure because it makes it quicker and easier to organize a workplace. “It didn’t take very long for us to get 70 percent of the workers to sign cards saying they wanted a union,” Bruce Raynor, president of Unite Here, told The New York Times. Unite Here is a union of apparel, hotel, and laundry workers that used the card-check process to organize employees at the Marriott Downtown Los Angeles.
But how many of them would have chosen unionization if they had voted secretly?
Bizarrely, big labor claims that secret-ballot elections allow employers to fire and intimidate union supporters. How’s that? Secret ballots are democracy’s best protection against such pressure and retaliation. They should be preserved in union elections.
As my former boss, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, has said, “A worker’s right to a secret ballot election is an intrinsic right in our democracy that should not be legislated away at the behest of special interest groups.”