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Employee Free Choice Act Opposition

Ballot BoxI wrote a letter today to Senator Casey of Pennsylvania urging him to oppose the grossly misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act” which unions desperately want to pass in order to make unionization much, much easier. I say that the proposed legislation is grossly misnamed because it essentially removes an employee’s free choice in the matter by removing any anonymity from the unionization process.

Currently, when a union wants to get into a company, they need to get at least 30% of the employees to sign cards stating that they’d like union representation. After that, the company can decide to hold a secret ballot election to determine if a majority of employees want union representation. The company doesn’t have to hold the elections. They can just agree to union representation if they want, but that’s a rare (if not nonexistent) happening. Typically, unions try to get 50-60% of the employees to sign cards before moving on to the election in order to bolster their chances for success.

The EFCA effectively removes the secret ballot election, thereby removing any and all employee anonymity in the unionization process. Supporters claim that it does not remove the secret ballot elections and technically, they are correct. They say that it moves the choice of whether to have one from the company to the employees, giving the employees even more say in how the process works. The reality, however, is that they are gone.

Here’s why. Under the EFCA, an election can be held if 30% of the workers sign cards saying that they want one. The problem is, in order to get an election to protect their anonymity, workers need to give up their anonymity by signing cards.

The entire proposed legislation is geared toward removing any and all anonymity from the process, thereby exposing employees to potentially intense pressure, coercion, and harassment from unions. Stories of union harassment are easy to find and plentiful even now… even without the EFCA in place removing the protection of anonymity.

Unions complain that companies have access to the employees every day during working hours and can influence them, force them to watch anti-union presentations, and coerce them into opposing the union. What unions fail to say is that the unions have access to the employees outside work hours… all hours. That includes every minute of time that the employee is not at his place of employment. Union organizers contact employees via phone, letters, in person at their homes, and any other way possible. The unions have a veritable free-for-all with regard to employee contact and frequently take the opportunity to harass and intimidate workers who aren’t union supporters.

Unions would get to barge their way into a company by coercing 50% of the employees plus one into signing cards. No secret ballot election would be required. No anonymity would be afforded. After the union gets the required number of cards signed, the company would be forced to accept union representation. If the company and union cannot agree on a contract within 90 days, either side can request mediation. If after 30 days of mediation, no agreement can be reached, both parties would then be subject to binding arbitration.

This is a losing situation for workers and companies. Workers would get harassed and coerced into signing cards to support representation they may not even want and the company would be forced to accept unionization without a secret ballot election of their employees, which is the only way to keep the process fair. The deck would be drastically and unfairly stacked in favor of unions (and in opposition to workers and companies) if the EFCA were to pass.

After all that, there is one part of the EFCA with which I would agree. It would stiffen the penalties for companies who fire employees for supporting the union. It’s currently against the law to do that now, but the penalties are evidently not particularly deterring. Even so, verifiable cases of employees being fired for union support are few and far between. Union harassment stories, however… not so much.

In closing, here’s the letter I sent to Senator Casey.

As a Pennsylvania resident, I am very concerned about the Employee Free Choice Act that will be making its way through Congress shortly.

This misnamed piece of proposed legislation is an attempt to make it easier for unions to take over companies by removing an employee’s right to a secret vote. Supporters claim that employees still have a chance to choose a secret ballot election, but the clause allowing it is insignificant and essentially removes any practical chance of a secret ballot election.

This proposal will allow unions to more easily coerce, pressure, harass, and threaten workers into supporting the union by taking away any chance for anonymity that currently exists. The unions clearly want this proposed legislation to pass in order to remove any potential roadblocks to unionization.

Union harassment is a far, far greater threat to workers than corporate harassment. Union officials complain of corporate coercion of employees, but whitewash and trivialize union harassment issues. Corporations have access to employees only during working hours, but unions have full access to employees outside those hours and have fully taken advantage of that access while, at the same time, complaining about their lack of access. It’s hypocritical at best.

Not only is this piece of proposed legislation bad for workers, but it’s potentially dangerous. Removing the anonymity provided by a mandatory secret ballot election will expose workers to a level of pressure and harassment that is unacceptable, inexcusable, and un-American. Only with a secret-ballot election can unionization remain a fair process.

Please vote against this proposed legislation and keep the democratic process alive.

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