NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 8, 2008

Voting is an immense privilege.  That is why George McGovern, a former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, says he is concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans.  

The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and according to McGovern, it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement.  Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.

The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized:

  • Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50 percent of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as "card-check."
  • There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.
  • Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

EFCA would strip working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what the Democratic Party has always championed, says McGovern.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress -- including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts -- have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union.  We should have no less for employees in our country, says McGovern.

Source: George McGovern, "My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots," Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2008.

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