Hawaii Governor Says No to Card Checks

Article prepared by Darren Rumack and Brian Caufield. 

As promised, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle vetoed a bill that would have allowed the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to recognize a union based solely on card checks.

Lingle claimed that card check authorization would be a “poor substitute for the secret ballot and is ripe for abuse.”

Of course, this card check authorization scheme mimics that of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which if passed, would do away with secret ballot elections.

Unions seek power play in Washington State.

Although the Employee Free Choice Act has rightfully garnered much attention for the limits it would place on employers’ abilities to fight union organizing campaigns, organized labor is making a similar push on the state level to restrict employer options during attempts to organize the workplace. 

This blog has posted previous entries regarding state versions of the EFCA here and here, and now comes word of a new piece of legislation in the State of Washington that seeks to limit workplace communications.   The bill would ban employer communications about “matters directly related to candidates, election officials, ballot propositions, legislation, election campaigns, political parties, and political, social, community, and labor or other mutual aid organizations.” This could well limit an employer’s ability to make its case to workers during an organizing campaign.

Its hard to blame organized labor for seeking these changes that would make unionization an easier process for workers. Given the decline of the organized labor movement in this country in recent decades, unions are certainly not the indispensable organization in workers’ lives they once were. 

Really though, while unions have every right to make their lives earlier and to increase their membership, they need to stop hiding behind condescending phrases like “protecting employee’s free choice” or “protecting workplace privacy.” These are power grabs—pure and simple, and has nothing to do with improving the lots of workers in this country.

Schwarzenegger "terminates" the EFCA in California

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed California legislation very similar to the Employee Free Choice Act.  The California legislation would have allowed workers to form unions by signing union authorization cards rather than going through a union campaign resulting in an election.  The law would have also increased penalties for labor law violations.

Schwarzenegger, declared in his veto message that, “This 'card check' process fundamentally alters an employee's right to a secret ballot election.”

Massachusetts Enacts Modified EFCA

The State of Massachusetts enacted a modified version of the Employee Free Choice Act. 

On September 27, 2007, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, signed into law a bill requiring recognition of public sector unions when a majority of bargaining unit members sign union authorization cards.  Under this new law, unions have 12 months to gather signatures and can then request certification from the State Labor Relations Commission or from a neutral third party.