- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

House passage of “card check” union legislation Thursday by a 241-185 margin is a landmark of sorts for the Democratic 110th Congress. With this move to scuttle the secret vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership take a bullet for Big Labor on a highly unpopular and suspicious-looking measure which many rightly decry as undemocratic. What’s equally notable is that they take this bullet knowing that the bill’s sweeping changes almost certainly will not pass the Senate or be signed into law by President Bush. The whole affair would be puzzling, except it demonstrates once again how beholden Democrats are to Big Labor.

The wonderfully mistitled Employee Free Choice Act would replace the secret union ballot with a system wherein a simple majority of workers can create a union by signing a card in favor. But they would do so in the open, where would-be bosses can see which workers are voting “correctly.” The bill also outlaws enticements from management to vote no, which is another big change. This amounts to an easing of the unionization process — an easing which only union bosses and politicians they fund could love.

Currently, companies can require workers to cast ballots in secret, and engage in a bargaining process mediated by the National Labor Relations Board. Concessions by management in the run-up to the vote can often stymie the formation of a union. While not perfect, the secrecy of this process at least ensures that workers can decide privately whether unionizing is truly in their best interests. Meanwhile, the bargaining gives management a voice in the process. All this disappears under the new plan.

The secret ballot, of course, is enormously popular in polls and in practice. Its sacking looks and feels undemocratic, because it is. Thus it is little surprise that the 60-vote threshold in the Senate is looking difficult for this measure, and a filibuster is possible. But even presuming a filibuster doesn’t happen, Mr. Bush has promised that he will veto the bill. These are some formidable obstacles.

The obvious and correct conclusion here is that the Democratic Party really is sufficiently beholden to Big Labor to take the bullet on this loser of a proposal both for its patrons, who most ardently seek help boosting their declining membership rolls, and for themselves, to keep Big Labor’s campaign contributions flowing. Otherwise, the politics of this issue are simply too toxic. It makes a mockery of Democrats who cast themselves as defenders of the little guy. In this case, they push the little guy aside because powerful union bosses worried about their declining legions are asking for it.

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