Any time the Employee Free Choice Act (the so-called card check bill) comes up for discussion, someone will say they oppose it because they believe in a secret ballot. Warren Buffet was the most high profile recent example:
“I think the secret ballot’s pretty important in the country,” said the Oracle from Omaha. “I’m against card check to make a perfectly flat statement.”
That’s a perfect example of how Democrats and unions have so far lost the propaganda battle to union-busting Republicans and corporations.
In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act does not do away with secret ballot elections. It simply provides the card check mechanism as an alternative way to form a union. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, a union can be formed either by a secret ballot or by a majority of workers signing cards (or a petition) indicating that they want a union.
Not only do workers get to choose which way they want to do it, but the dice are still weighted in favor of a secret ballot. If just 30% of workers want a secret ballot election, then that’s the way it must be done. That is what the National Labor Relation Act says, and this provision is not trumped by the Employee Free Choice Act.
Why do we need an additional mechanism? As Rachel Maddow underlined on her MSNBC show last night, it’s because an entire industry has sprung up to help companies intimidate workers seeking to follow the relatively drawn out secret ballot process.
The card check provision offers a fast track route to forming a union. And that’s why this bill is opposed so fervently by the people who oppose it. That’s why Newt Gingrich calls it a “mortal threat to American freedom” and Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus says it will cause the “demise of a civilization”.
What I find most hilarious, though, about the public debate over the Employee Free Choice Act is how unabashedly anti-labor constituencies (the party of Bimbaugh, for example, or Walmart) are arguing with a straight face that the act is anti-labor, and that’s why they oppose it. Because their one and only consideration is to do what’s best for labor. And it’s the unions who are out to hurt workers by pushing the legislation through.
Actually, the hilarious part is not that the Republican party and the Walmarts of the world are saying this. It’s that Americans are buying it.