NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 16, 2010

Unable to push through legislation authorizing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and its "card check" rule, which would allow unions to make use of authorization cards signed by individual workers in place of the secret ballot, Big Labor now appears to be going to their fallback position, the so-called "snap" election, says Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center.

How do snap elections work?

  • A vote is held quickly when union support is at its highest and before the employer has a chance to make its opinion heard.
  • Even better (at least from the union's point of view) would be if the election could be held without the employer even knowing about the petition; that's the one way to guarantee that workers will not hear the case against unionization.

The problem with holding snap elections up to now has been that the most logical place to hold the vote is at the workplace, although the sight of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) officials setting up voting booths is kind of a giveaway that something is up, says Kersey.

Years ago new NLRB appointee Craig Becker opined in a law review article that employers should have no right to speak on the topic of unionization, and one way to make that a reality would be to hold elections quickly and away from the workplace.  And one way to do that would be through cyberspace.  The NLRB has formally requested information from companies on Internet voting, potentially a very troubling development depending on what the NLRB has in mind, says Kersey.

With one exception -- occasionally a workforce will be widely dispersed and it won't be practical to set up a central voting location --  the old-fashioned voting booth is clearly superior to voting by mail or by the web because NLRB officials can verify that votes are cast by eligible workers, in secrecy and without risk of coercion, and counted correctly.  With voting by mail or by the Internet, however, there is a real possibility that workers could be forced into voting while under surveillance or even by physical threats, says Kersey.

Source: Paul Kersey, "Federal Labor Board Sets Up Snap Union Elections," Mackinac, July 8, 2010.

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