Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Libertarians back secret ballot voting rights in union elections

America’s third largest party warns concerned citizens that plans to scrap the right of workers to a secret ballot in union elections are far from dead. Libertarians also warn that such "card check" legislation also destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs as the nation attempts to revive its economy.

“The right to vote by secret ballot is one of our most cherished institutions for a reason. It protects people from those who would use violence or intimidation to achieve their goals,” said William Redpath, Libertarian National Committee Chair.

“The card check bill currently in Congress that strips workers of their basic voting rights in union organizing matters is far from dead, and it threatens not just workers’ rights and safety, but it threatens people’s jobs as well,” said Redpath.

Card check allows a union to organize by confronting employees with a so-called “signature card” supporting the creation of a union in their work place. The union would maintain control and possession of the cards, along with the names and personal information of the employees, until they get enough signatures to force unionization. In many cases, the person demanding the signature would be the employee’s supervisor.

"A good union shouldn't fear a secret ballot. Stripping workers of that right only empowers bad unions to organize through coercion," said Redpath.

Allowing a union to form by simply coercing workers to publicly sign cards could force businesses to slash as many as 600,000 jobs nationwide, according to research from The Alliance To Save Main Street.

74 percent of rank-and-file union workers oppose the card check legislation in Congress, a January 2009 McLaughlin & Associates poll finds.

Once a majority of workers submit to the signature card demands, the union could then begin collecting dues from the workers’ paychecks without ever having a secret ballot election on the matter.

“These signature cards strip workers of their right to a secret ballot, allowing an unscrupulous union boss to organize a workplace by simply bullying or threatening a minority of the workforce into signing signature cards,” said Redpath. “There’s a reason we don’t allow signature cards in elections for political office, and those concerns over violence and intimidation are just as valid in the workplace.”

It would also allow union bosses to pocket an additional $7 billion in forced dues, according to the National Right to Work Committee. Much of that $7 billion could find its way into the campaign accounts of card check supporters, through extensive union political donations, giving senators much incentive to pass the forced unionism-friendly bill.

The bill is considered stalled in the Senate after past supporters Arlen Specter (R-PA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced they could not support the bill as written. But the impending arrival of Senator-elect Al Franken (D-MN) may give anti-ballot forces the votes they need to pass card check, and any changes to the bill allow Specter, Lincoln or Feinstein to switch their allegiance back.

“Opponents of secret ballot voting rights want you to think card check is dead. They’re wrong. Voters, especially voters in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and California, need to call their senator at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose the very-much-alive card check bill,” said Redpath.

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