Why you don't have to hate unions to oppose the EFCA

If you are reading this blog posting, you are probably well-aware of the fact that it is on the web page of a law firm that represents management in employment matters. Here is a piece of information you do not have: This particular writer used to be a member of a union. That’s right. I was a member of a labor union and I was glad for it. After a few years anyway.

My initial reaction to starting my job and being told that all of the teachers in the NYC public school system are members of the union was, “Really? I don’t get to choose?” As I soon learned, I did not get to choose. The teachers who had come and gone before me had made the choice for me. Over the years, I came to appreciate the union. That did not, however, negate the fact that I had not chosen to become a member.

Now, with the passage of the EFCA looming in the horizon, I’ve had to think about what it means to choose union membership. If the EFCA is passed, workplaces may become unionized just by workers signing cards. That’s it. No private ballot, just your signature on a card.

Many people have questioned the freedom in that. Gone is the safety of knowing that no one will ever know where you put that “X” on the ballot. That safety seems to be important, though. It even seems to be important to Congressmen John D. Dingell (D-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) who recently supported a private election in choosing the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This even though they support the passage of the EFCA. (See a letter from the Alliance for Worker Freedom to Representatives Dingell and Waxman here. See how your representative voted here.) Clearly there must be some benefit to having a secret ballot election. But the EFCA supporters have lost sight of that. This new card-check process is going to come at a cost. I wonder whether they can appreciate what that cost might be. I know Congressmen Dingell and Waxman must have an idea.



A Response to Our Readers


In a comment to our last post, one reader wrote:

My husband works for UPS Freight, formerly Overnite Transportation, in Richmond, VA. He has seen first hand the results of a union vote based on the card check. The union did not talk to any road drivers who were formerly Overnite and concentrated on dock workers for their 50% card checkers. Once the vote date was set, only those who had signed under card check could even attend the Union meeting. As a result, 32 people voted in the union - clearly not a majority of the 141 affected by the vote. Many would not vote because a secret ballot was not available.

Do you know of anyone in Richmond Virginia who is following this debacle of modern democracy?


The EFCA Blog's Response:

Although we have not personally followed the story you reported, it is nonetheless emblematic of the downside of the card-check procedure, and the potential corrosive effects the EFCA (and card-checks) can have on fair unionization procedures, and ensuring a democratic workplace.

That said, you should not feel powerless in the wake of card-check procedures--any legitimate concerns should be reported to the National Labor Relations Board to ensure a fair union representation process. Another option is the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (located in Springfield, VA), which can also assist with issues relating to "forced" unionism.