A special message in honor of Labor Day:
A little while back, I wrote of George McGovern's opinion piece advising members of the Democratic party not to support the adoption of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, the legislation supported by the SEIU to remove the need for elections as part of a union organizing drive. My post got picked up by a website called EFCA Updates, a blog I had never heard of published by a law firm called Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, which apparently represents managements of companies with regard to labor issues. The firm also cited other blogs with points similar to mine; but this made me curious what other folks out in the blogosphere might have said in response to Senator McGovern's editorial and generally on this topic.
So, I did a blog search and discovered tons of commentary on the issue pro and con. (I will not refer you to the ones who engaged in ad hominem attacks on the former Senator. Why is it that some people feel the need to denigrate those who disagree with them? Why can't they let the strength of their arguments carry the day?)
Remarkably, while the blogosphere is full of ideas, the topic still does not make it into political debates. This blog presents the issue with a Minnesota candidate in an interesting way that you might or might not find convincing. But I think it contains an element of apt political analysis: People running for the Democratic nomination in their states have stressed their support for EFCA as part of their campaign in part to garner the SEIU's and other organized labor extensive funding of and involvement in those primary campaigns.
But then, when the candidates get to the general election and have to convince non-party regulars to vote for them, they may not be all that anxious to have this issue front and center in their campaign. After all, as Senator McGovern noted, it is really hard to explain to the general public why workers should not have the right to a secret ballot election when it is long-held American value. I note, for example, that even Barack Obama avoids this important aspect of the proposed legislation when he puts it this way:
Ensure Freedom to Unionize: Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will continue to fight for EFCA's passage and sign it into law.
I want to be quite clear that I have great respect for Senator Obama and for his persuasive powers of oratory and his ability to deliver a clear message. But something tells me that he is never going to be so direct as to say the following on the campaign trail or in a debate with Senator McCain:
I will sign legislation allowing unions to be certified as the sole bargaining representative in companies, hospitals, and other institutions without having to hold an election. Although it is vitally important under our democratic system for Senator McCain and me, every member of Congress, every Governor, and all other public officials to go through a process of secret ballot elections, unions shouldn't need to have workers do that. The idea of a secret ballot is old-hat because workers will be intimidated when they are alone in the privacy of the voting booth. In contrast, there is no danger of intimidation when union officials and fellow workers approach individuals one at a time to collect authorization cards. It is perfectly fine in such an environment if 50.1 percent of the workers at a company sign an authorization card that binds themselves and the other 49.9 percent of the workers to be members of a union. That's why we don't need elections anymore.