- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The House Committee on Education and Labor is scheduled to hold a hearing today on the Employee Free Choice Act. Only in a Congress now beholden to the workers’ unions could a bill that is designed to limit workers’ choice be labeled “free.” The fact is that union membership is down to 12 percent nationally and the unions need some new recruits — and money — fast.

As the AFL-CIO itself boasts, a unionizing method known as “card check” brought in more than 150,000 new members last year. The bill currently being debated would make card check the only method of unionization and scrap the traditional method of secret-ballot elections. It’s no secret why unions would want to do away with elections. As the Center for Union Facts notes, in January 2006, Bruce Raynor of the pro-union organization UNITE HERE reported that 90 percent of new members his union gained from the previous year were obtained through “alternative means” that avoided elections.

Of course if you are among those who can’t imagine why anyone would not want to join a union, then declining membership rates would strike you as highly suspicious. You would probably reason that it all has to do with dastardly companies which punish employees trying to unionize. In any case, that’s the sum total of the logic Democrats and unions are peddling. What’s missing from their argument are facts and fairness.

Under the card-check method, if a majority of workers sign a card indicating their support of a union, then the union is immediately authorized as the bargaining representative of all the company’s workers. Unions and their Democratic lawmakers claim this will decrease employer intimidation — to say nothing of union intimidation — and they cite a slew of statistics to support this. What they don’t say is that most of those statistics were culled by pro-union organizations, which based their findings on either anecdotal evidence or the say-so of union organizers.

Nor have card-check proponents said anything to convince us that government-supervised, secret-ballot elections are somehow less free than union-run card check programs. In fact, 10 House sponsors of the current bill, including the lead sponsor, Rep. George Miller of California, wrote to Mexican officials in 2001 urging them to protect secret-ballot elections. “We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required by Mexican labor law,” they wrote. “However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose.”

So apparently, in a Democratic-controlled Congress, American workers aren’t entitled to the same protections as Mexican workers.

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