The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Choice

Picture this. You live in a small town and there’s a referendum that would clear cut a local forest to put up a new chain store. The forest has been there for centuries and you’re against the idea. Your neighbors, however, are for it. Normally, the referendum would be decided in a special election. You’d all go down to the polling place and, as usual, vote in private. Your vote would be your secret, unless you decided to share how you voted with others. While you vote, no one would be looking over your shoulder, no one could coerce you to change your mind. But what if the rules changed and your neighbors (the ones who vehemently support the destruction of the forest) could demand that you vote openly in their presence, all the while trying to convince you to vote their way. Maybe you’d be strong enough to resist, but what about others, could they be coerced to vote against their beliefs?

Secret ballots are an American tradition. But apparently, big labor and many of the Democrats in Congress think that should be changed, at least when union membership is on the line. Froma Harrop comments:
The first campaign promise Barack Obama should break is to push through the Employee Free Choice Act. That harmless sounding piece of legislation would let union organizers do an end run around secret-ballot elections: Companies would have to recognize a union if most workers signed cards in support of it.

We're not children here. We know how those majorities can be reached. There's repeated harassment, bullying and more inventive tactics, such as getting workers drunk, then sliding sign-up cards under their noses. Meanwhile, any strong-armed tactics by employers can be dealt with.

Unclear is why unions even want to go there. Their decline is one reason for the falling fortunes of American workers, particularly those without college educations. Unions have an interesting product to sell. Surely, they can persuade workers to support them in the privacy of a voting booth. That's how Obama and the enhanced Democratic majority in Congress got where they are.

Former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, a pro-labor liberal, has come out against the so-called card-check provision. He calls it "disturbing and undemocratic."

The ridiculously named “Employee Free Choice Act” is anything but. It is indeed "disturbing and undemocratic," and it is a travesty that any elected official, not to mention a significant majority of the Congress, would vote for its passage.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that an objective observer would start counting “marbles” as the Obama administration starts its difficult job of governance. The degree to which Barack Obama supports the “Employee Free Choice Act” is one of those marbles. Let’s watch and see.