Thursday, August 28, 2008 - Labor Day Special: 2 Articles on Big Labor's Current Agenda

One of the most underreported stories at this week's Democratic National Convention is that Big Labor is making a big comeback.  The paradox is that even as union numbers have declined, union political clout has increased, especially within the Democratic Party.
More tellingly, rewriting federal law to promote union organizing is now near the top of the Democratic agenda. The main vehicle is "card check" legislation, which would eliminate the requirement for secret ballots in union elections. Unable to organize workers when employees can vote in privacy, unions want to expose those votes to peer pressure, and inevitably to public intimidation.
The question for Americans more broadly is whether a return to widespread unionization is really the way to raise middle-class incomes.

As for the U.S., the states with right to work laws have performed better economically for workers of all types. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has shown that right to work states over the past 30 years have lower unemployment, higher rates of job creation, and faster growth in GDP and per-capita personal income than states with compulsory union membership. Colorado is hoping to get in on this success, with a high-profile ballot initiative this fall that would make it a right to work state.


Deceptively named the Employee Free Choice Act, this bill would in most cases take away an employee's right to a secret ballot in a union election and give unions the option to have federal arbitrators set the wages, benefits, hours and all other terms and conditions of employment.

My advice today about the Employee Free Choice Act is the same as I gave in England: You better fight to stop this undemocratic bill. I'm not the only one who thinks the proposed law violates long-established principles of democracy. In these pages, George McGovern, a former Democratic senator and a champion of organized labor, called this bill what it really is -- "a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor."

Those who support the bill claim that it will "protect workers." This doesn't pass the straight-face test. Mr. McGovern saw through the false rhetoric of the bill's sponsors, saying that the measure "runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, [it] risks silencing those who would speak."

1 comment:

Joe said...

You may be interested to see an interesting Zogby/Mackinac Center survey of union members on card-check, the linchpin of EFCA.

It's four years old, but as far as I know, it's the only published work that shows the attitudes of union workers themselves on the value of secret-ballot elections.

Bottom line: We asked the question several ways, and sizeable majorities of union members always preferred to keep the secret ballot opposed to card check.

Joe Lehman
Executive Vice President
Mackinac Center for Public Policy