Labor Unions vs. American Workers and Businesses

Ray Keating

Remind me, please, who exactly is on the side of American workers?

Many assume it is labor unions, and various politicians who pander to union leaders. But why, then, would this group be seeking to take away workers' rights to the secret ballot, taking away their abililty to cast votes free from coercion?

In a videotaped address to AFL-CIO union leaders on March 3, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama signaled "his full backing" for the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama reportedly said: "We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act."

The Employee Free Choice Act most certainly is not about free choice. The bill is due to be introduced in the new Congress shortly. In the last Congress, the measure as introduced did two main things. First, it denied workers the right to a private vote on union representation, allowing unionization if a majority of employees signed a check-off card saying they want to organize. Second, businesses and workers would face binding arbitration, with federal government appointees imposing contract terms for a period of two years, if no agreements were reached in a set period of time.

It's pretty clear that the only people that come out ahead if ths legislation wer passed would be labor union leaders, and individuals willing to do anything to gain union representation. Oh yes, and don't forget the politicians who get labor union backing.

The losers would be many. Workers would lose the right to a secret ballot election, with many facing strong-arms tactics pro-union thugs to sign the check-off cards.

Small businesses would face a dramatically increased threat of unionization, and the decline in productivity and increase in costs that inevitably come with unions. Keep in mind, as illustrated by the auto company woes, as labor unions work to make firms less competitive, entire companies and industries can be placed in peril, as are the jobs in such industries.

So, in the end, both American businesses and American workers would suffer negative consequences if the Employee Free Choice Act were to become law.

These realities might be sinking in even some past supporters of card check. A March 4 Arkansas News column by Zack Stovall, for example, noted that Arkansas' two Democratic senators - Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor - are wavering or uncommitted on card check. In addition, a March 3 Las Vegas Sun story noted that past supporters from Nevada - Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus - have yet to sign on this time around.

Other members of Congress have taken explicit action to protect the secret ballot. Quite simply, the Secret Ballot Protection Act (H.R. 1176 and S.478) would "amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure the right of employees to a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board."

For the benefit of workers, the Secret Ballot Protection Act deserves to be passed. To protect workers, small business and our economy, the Employee Free Choice Act must be defeated.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.


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