Card Check Bill Threatens Workers’ Rights

By Beacon Staff

Congress is preparing to debate a bill that is not only anti-business, but also anti-worker. It’s ironically named the “Employee Free Choice Act,” (EFCA), and the only winners, if this bill is passed, are big labor unions.

Since unions in private industries have seen their numbers dwindle over the past 20 years, they are pushing for changes that totally change the rules when it comes to organizing a union. They do this by taking away secret ballot elections in union campaigns and replacing it with a system called “card check.”

Under this system, union organizers would be able to approach workers and ask them to sign a card saying they want a union. This form of organizing leaves employees vulnerable to labor union strong-arm tactics and peer pressure. No longer will a worker have the privacy of the ballot box to make that important decision.

The act has a few other dangerous provisions. Employers would be forced to reach a deal on collective bargaining agreements within 90 days of a successful union election. If no agreement is made, government arbitrators will come and make the decisions.

In addition, employers will be subjected to higher penalties when they speak out against the union. Needless to say, this is a very anti-employer bill and anti-employee bill. It is, however, very pro-labor union. And don’t just think that unions are after big business – small businesses are in their sights as well.

Labor unions cite employer intimidation as a reason to pass card check. Employers counter that labor unions often use deceit and threats in union campaigns, not to mention the many cases of union corruption. But the truth is that under the current system of private elections, workers are protected with the secret ballot that prevents their employer and the labor union from knowing how they voted.

This past November, the Montana Chamber of Commerce included a question about card check in its latest poll of 600 Montana voters, which has a 4 percent margin of error. When asked whether Congress should preserve secret ballot elections in union campaigns, 77 percent of Montana voters said “yes.” That’s a very solid majority of Montanans who want to maintain private elections.

Isn’t it ironic that labor unions feel that in order to represent more workers, they must take away such a fundamental American right from those workers? Even long-time labor union supporters like George McGovern agree the bill goes too far: “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.”

Our federal delegation needs to hear from you on this important bill. We urge you to contact Sen. Max Baucus (800) 332-6106, Sen. Jon Tester (866) 554-4403, and Congressman Denny Rehberg (888) 232-2626, to tell them to vote “no” on the card check bill in every form.

Montana workers deserve to have their right to a private election in union campaigns protected.

Webb Brown is the president/CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.