The 2007 “Employee Free Choice Act” was among the most obscenely-misnamed bills in Congress’s history, because, if enacted, EFCA would have effectively eliminated free choice for American workers.
The bill’s real purpose was to enable union organizers to force employers to recognize unions as their workforce’s bargaining agent without the inconvenience of supervised, secret-ballot elections. Enactment would have permitted union certification through “card check,” an unsupervised process in which organizers would only have to strong-arm the signatures of 50 percent of employees on non-secret, often misrepresented “authorization” cards.
The bill failed in Congress, but unions and union-financed political hacks shamelessly persist. “Card check” is back — at least in Pennsylvania.
On June 25, Democratic Pennsylvania legislators released a memo, “Strengthening Collective Bargaining,” promoting legislation to make “deciding whether to form a union easier by streamlining the election process. Instead of requiring a lengthy two-tiered election process, this bill would allow a simple card check where expressing majority support would be sufficient.”
Current labor law provides for supervised secret ballot certification elections after 30 percent of a prospective bargaining unit’s workers sign cards. Getting one-third to sign is fairly easy. Winning secret-ballot elections is more problematic.
Why eliminate secret-ballot elections? In 2007, United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen candidly admitted, “We can’t win that way anymore” — in other words, fairly.
Under “card check” union organizers can visit employees at their homes. If union organizers cannot get enough employees to sign immediately, they repeatedly revisit those who didn’t sign, unannounced, at all hours until enough holdouts are pressured into signing. When spouses and kids are at home, busy, relaxing, playing or sleeping, workers’ families are implicitly menaced by union pressure.
A former United Steelworkers organizer wrote an account to the House Education and Labor Committee, ““I left this line of work because I became revolted by the ugly methods…we were encouraged to use to pressure employees into union ranks,” and, “I…quit when a senior Steelworkers union official asked me to threaten migrant workers by telling them they would be reported to federal immigration officials if they refused to sign check-off cards…”
According to a 2005 National Labor Relations Board affidavit, a Service Workers United organizer threatened a New Jersey university food-service worker: “…I wouldn’t have a job in September if I didn’t sign the card…the Union would make sure…I was fired.”
In 2006, the UNITE union’s Philadelphia local was convicted of illegally using license plate numbers from employee parking lots to obtain addresses from motor vehicle records, and “visiting” workers’ homes to “encourage” support for unions. Drivers for non-union Pennsylvania trucking companies have had similar experiences.
Such ugly personal harassment makes it difficult for workers to resist signing union cards. Threatened, workers feel the only safe responses are “Yes” and “Yes, sir!”
Secret-ballot elections are America’s gold standard, but democratically-elected Pennsylvania Democrats propose ending them to reimburse their party’s union paymasters.
“Card check” would make union organizing a public safety issue for Pennsylvania workers – and “union election” an undemocratic sham.