Sen. Jim DeMint held a call with bloggers today to discuss the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. We’ve written about this abomination on numerous occasions. To summarize, it denies employees the right to a secret ballot on the issue of whether they will be represented by a union. Instead, a union can become their bargaining agent without a vote if half of the employees in the bargaining unit sign a card stating that this is what they want.
Clearly, a worker’s secret ballot better reflects his or her free choice than an executed card. Signatures can be obtained through coercion; a secret vote cannot be. That’s why the secret ballot is such a vital element in our democracy. The fact that the Democrats are prepared to deny it to workers, so that unions (a fading institution) can make up ground and direct their members’ money into the coffers of the Democratic party, is an immense scandal.
The Employee Free Choice Act also requires companies and newly certified unions to enter into binding arbitration if they cannot reach agreement on an initial contract after 90 days of negotiations. The arbitrator’s ruling would not be appealable.
As Senator DeMint emphasized today, when government arbitrators start writing labor contracts for private companies, we’re well down the road to Socialism. Indeed, DeMint tied the Employee Free Choice Act to various bailout programs, especially the one for the auto industry, which will also enhance the government’s control over the economy while protecting the UAW. Through legislation like the auto industry package and the Employee Free Choice Act, the Democrats see, simultaneously to bail out unions, a key political ally, and increase government control over the economy.
As for the prospects of blocking the Employee Free Choice Act, DeMint was neither defeatist nor optimistic. He figures that Norm Coleman is likely to hang on to his seat, meaning that there will be 42 Republicans. But DeMint expects to lose Arlen Specer on this issue (Specter reportedly has been searching for a “middle ground” position, but Scottish law does not seem to apply here). So unless every other Republican sticks together, the legislation will pass unless Democrats break ranks.
DeMint predicts that, understanding the unattractiveness of taking away the secret balllot, the Dems will load up the initial legislation with additional bad ideas in the hope of presenting their core position as a compromise. He added that the “card check” is so unattractive that, in the end, there is some chance the Dems will have to compromise that away too. This would leave the manadatory arbitration position, coupled presumably with reforms in election procedure, such as quick elections, that would make it easier for unions to win.
Mandatory arbitration is a terrible idea, but it would apply only where a new union has been certified. Thus, the priority must be to make sure that unions are only certified as the result of a secret vote.
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