- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All told, Big Labor contributed around $100 million to Democrats and liberal 527 groups during the last election cycle. Considering the outcome that wasn’t such a bad investment, now was it? Naturally, Big Labor is looking to get something in return and it appears incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ready to oblige.

Topping Big Labor’s agenda for the new Congress is something called “card check.” The idea is simple enough. Workers would be allowed to unionize if a majority of them sign union cards during a set period. A bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy known as the “Employee Free Choice Act” would basically replace secret ballots with card-check unionization.

It’s not surprising that most unions would opt for the card check since, as the AFL-CIO notes, organized labor gained more than 150,000 new members last year through card-check petitions. In fact, card-check unionization has quickly become the only way Big Labor seems to increase membership these days — which should raise a few red flags.

It should be obvious that secret ballots work to minimize the intimidation unionizers can exert over reluctant employees. There’s certainly a degree of intimidation from both unions and management in the lead-up to a secret ballot election, but, as with ordinary elections, once alone in the booth, no one else but you knows how you voted. Conversely, the extended card check process opens up numerous intimidation and fraud possibilities.

It should also be noted that signing a union card does not in any way obligate a worker to join the union nor does it necessarily signal a worker’s opinion about unionization. As the AFL-CIO itself noted in 1989, “It is not until the union obtains signatures from 75% or more of the unit that the union has more than 50% likelihood of winning the election.” In other words, signing a card is not the same thing as “one man, one vote.”

In response, card-check enthusiasts point to a study claiming that there’s in fact more intimidation by management with secret ballots. A few suspect items about the study: It was commissioned by the pro-labor group American Rights at Work and conducted by two pro-labor researchers, who in their conclusion decry the “right-wing ideological objective” of card check opponents.

Another survey, this one by the non-partisan Opinion Research Corp., found that 75 percent of Americans said that secret ballots were the most democratic method of choosing unionization. And as the Center for Union Facts notes, an August Zogby poll found that a plurality of employees (40.4 percent) said they were “definitely against” joining a union.

Nevertheless, at a Nov. 13 AFL-CIO rally, Mrs. Pelosi promised Big Labor that the new Congress will “move on card check.” After all, she owes them.

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