October 10th, 2008

Obama, the Democrats, and the Employee Free Choice Act: we don’t need no steenking secret ballots

Somehow this election promise of Obama’s has slipped under the radar screen for most Americans: do away with the secret ballot in elections to determine whether a workplace will be unionized, exposing workers to more union intimidation and practically guaranteeing increasing power for unions.

The unions and the Democrats of course disagree with this interpretation of the effect of the law. Please read both linked articles and see which side you think has the better argument.

To me it’s not even close. The legislation is very likely to eliminate the secret ballot not de jure but de facto, and will expose workers to more union intimidation. To understand the issues it helps to read both articles in their entirety, but here’s the money quote:

The EFCA propaganda claims the secret ballot is not being abolished. That is literally true, but what is not said is that the secret ballot would never be called into play as it is clear that unions would almost always be organized by getting a majority of workers to sign authorization cards.

When Obama speaks to unions he’s been promising that if/when he is President this bill will be passed and signed. It’s one of the most consistent pillars of a campaign that seems to mutate on a daily basis.

One reason is that unions have been very good to him and his fellow Democrats, very good indeed. He’s ready to return the favor by signing a bill with the Orwellian-inspired title of “Employee Free Choice Act” (War is Peace!! Ignorance is Strength!! Freedom is Slavery!!) into law after the hugely Democratic Congress of 2009 passes it, which it is likely to do. The only hope to stop it will be if there are enough opponents in the Senate to filibuster.

There’s no question it’s not just Obama but most Democrats in Congress who support passage of this bill. But just to show how far the Democratic Party has moved to the authoritarian Left these days, even George McGovern, once thought an ultra-liberal, has spoken strongly against it. Here he appears in an ad in which he comes down hard on the bill but unfortunately neglects to mention that it has the support of the current Democrat nominee for President, Barack Obama:

I happen to think most Americans would be outraged if they knew this was happening. But my guess is that they don’t.

[NOTE: Here’s a pro-union ad to promote the Employee Free Choice Act that’s three minutes long and yet somehow it never quite gets around to mentioning the controversy over the secret ballot. Pity.]

10 Responses to “Obama, the Democrats, and the Employee Free Choice Act: we don’t need no steenking secret ballots”

  1. Gray Says:

    The EFCA propaganda claims the secret ballot is not being abolished. That is literally true, but what is not said is that the secret ballot would never be called into play as it is clear that unions would almost always be organized by getting a majority of workers to sign authorization cards.

    OK. OK–wait….

    Didn’t that used to be called “bolshevism”? Sashal?
    The bolsheviks are the bolsheviks….

  2. Dave Moelling Says:

    McGovern has written a number of very interesting op-eds in the WSJ over the last 5-7 years on regulation, unions, minimum wage etc. It seems that after retirement he bought some business, I think it is a restaurant or lodge. Nothing like running a small business to be brought up hard against the unreality of government intervention. His is the best example of a well meaning liberal who intends to be a good boss treated like a criminal by the government and (some) employees.

  3. physicsguy Says:

    Yet another bit of evidence as to the direction BHo intends for the country.

    I feel like I’m in one of those terrifying, unreal episodes of The Twilight Zone from my youth: more and more evidence of where this candidate is with regard to his outlook, yet the reality justs keeps getting pushed away.

    Rod Serling voice on: “For your consideration: a country in which right is wrong, and reality slips away like the evening Twilight Zone.”

  4. Tim P Says:


    You’re not alone in thinking this act is a bad idea.
    Even an old liberal like George McGovern thinks it stinks, as he said in this 8/8/08 WSJ article quoted below.

    As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the presidency, I’ve participated in my share of vigorous public debates over issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the curtain and cast their vote. I didn’t always win, but I always respected the process.

    Voting is an immense privilege.

    That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor.

    The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.

    The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as “card-check.” There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

    Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

    There’s no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that protect individuals from unfair treatment. They have been a friend to the Democratic Party, and so I oppose this legislation respectfully and with care.

    To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.

    Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress — including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts — have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

    I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA’s true ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends “no” when they press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

    While it is never pleasant to stand against one’s party or one’s friends, there are times when such actions are necessary — as with my early and lonely opposition to the Vietnam War. I hope some of my friends in Congress will re-evaluate their support for this legislation. Because as Americans, we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.

    Mr. McGovern is a former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.

  5. strcpy Says:

    It is nothing new – ask any long time second amendment supporter. How many say they really support it yet do not? Many. They may say the words but their actions are not consistent.

    The Assault Rifle ban – it wasn’t about hunting rifles or any rifle a normal person would purchase, only military style weapons suitable for killing and murder. Well, anyone that knew anything at all about guns knew the bill was written MUCH more broadly than that but was shouted down as a “gun nut” “right wing militia member”, and all sorts of things – turns out we were right at it was allowed to sunset.

    Obama also has supported the bill to tax firearm ammunition out of existence that can penetrate a bullet proof vest. He *only* wants to do it for those ammunitions *only* and has no intention of touching hunting ammunition. Of course all hunting ammunition is capable of penetrating bullet proof vest and therefor under the legislation – but that’s not his “intention”.

    The only thing that makes these laws even better is when we “do it for the children” – though that has been made fun of so much now that it is rarely used.

    So, yep, par for the course. Mix in a little bit of derision at the person telling what the bill will obviously do while you give some meaningless (but well sounding) hyperbole and you get these bills passed.

    Look no further than the pushing for a “Fairness Doctrine” to be passed in order to protect our right to free speech (by limiting what can be said) for another great example.

  6. csimon Says:

    I’m with physicsguy. I feel like the world is turning upside down! I daily think about all these Obama followers who, for the most part, do not have a clue as to where he came from, what is background is and the true depth of his numerous “associations” with some really bad characters. They are oblivious to many of his “planks” — this being but one example. And that, clearly is deliberate — for some 20 – 22 months the only message has been New/Change/Different and BashBush and McCain=Bush. In the last couple weeks, he’s added blaming Wall Street and Republican deregulation as the cause of the econonomic meltdown. When people are mad, they always want someone to blame (witness our runaway trial lawyer “conglomerate” — more beneficiaries-to-be of an Obama presidency) and they often escape rational thinking for the more immediate solace they perceive in politicians lying through their teeth — and Obama is a pro at that, if ever I’ve seen one. He has shifted positions more times more rapidly — and more smoothly than I have ever before seen. I suppose that is why he gets the many admiring accolades with regard to his political “talent.” I can’t bring myself to call it “talent” because that word has always had a positive connotation to me. I have been able to observe very little that is positive about Obama with the exception of his two adorable daughters. I’m sure I shall feel quite different about them, too, in a few years, if they choose a public life as young adults and espouse the same philosophies of their parents, which no doubt they will.

    Numerous times in comments on this site I have written the words “Beware of what you wish for.” I wish I could yell it in the streets (not my style) and convince newscasters (at least at Fox) and bloggers to repeat these words with a short bulleted list of the most invasive and anti-democratic positions of the Far Left that Obama and today’s Democrats stand for.

    In summary, I feel sick.

    P.S. Just a couple days ago I caught the McGovern ad on television in which he emphatically declared his opposition to the “Card Check Rule” as it is most commonly referred,
    Regrettably, and ironically, the many very young Obama acolytes have no clue who this old man addressing them is.

  7. njcommuter Says:

    How many more absurd positions can Obama take before people begin to see?

    Should this have been a McCain strategy: lead The One into a rapid series of absurd and contradictory positions.

    While we’re at it, didn’t Obama suggest pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into an ‘anti-poverty’ initiative in Africa? That’s all we need: after The Great Society bled our economy and damaged our society here at home, we should repeat it at our expense on a continent whose societies are barely holding together.

    And THAT should be a McCain campaign message.

  8. LTEC Says:

    In communist Poland they had a similar notion of “secret ballot”. Everone voting had a choice: they could line up for the privacy booths on the right and vote secretly, or they go to the left and automatically vote the Communist Party ticket.

    Although everyone I tell this to understands that this was a mockery of the notion of secret ballot, many of them see nothing wrong with “card-check” which is EXACTLY the same thing.

  9. South | UAW | Volkswagon | defeat union | card check Says:

    […] had this in the bag. Funny thing, though, a secret ballot is different than signing a card – remember card check, one of Obama’s original […]

  10. Defeat for UAW in Tennessee Says:

    […] they had this in the bag. Funny thing, though, a secret ballot is different than signing a card – remember card check, one of Obama’s original […]

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