Deciding which is worse — mandatory interest arbitration or loss of the secret ballot — is a tough call. Hans Von Spakovsky is out with a new must-read analysis of card check. The effort to do away with secret ballots is defended by claims that the current process is too time-consuming and well as rigged against unions. Businesses, with their fancy lawyers and sneaky tactics, don’t give unions a chance, say the card check proponents. But that simply isn’t true:
The median time for conducting elections in 2007 was only 39 days from the filing of the petition—little more than one month. The NLRB conducted 1,905 “conclusive representation elections” in cases closed in fiscal 2007, and unions won 55.7 percent of those elections.
What would we get in place of the time-honored secret ballot anyway? A whole lot of intimidation and manipulation. This conclusion doesn’t come only from businesses or conservative pundits, but from a former union organizer:
A former union organizer for UNITE HERE, a union that represents employees in the textile, lodging, food-service, and manufacturing industries, testified in 2007 about the “disgraceful practices” that unions use to obtain card checks from employees. Those manipulative tactics included:
• A “blitz” in which “teams of two or more organizers” go to the homes of employees, most of whom have no idea there is a union campaign underway, and “use the element of surprise to get ‘into the door.'” Usually, when someone signed a card, “it had nothing to do with whether a worker was satisfied with the job or felt they were treated fairly by his or her boss…. [M]ost often it was the skill of the organizer to create issues from information the organizer had extracted from the worker during the ‘probe’ state of the house call.”
• Avoiding showing employees the union contract or talking about “topics such as dues increases, strike histories, etc.”
• Manipulating the size of the group of workers they were supposedly organizing “after the drive was finished” if required to reduce the number of cards needed to obtain a majority “regardless of [the employees’] level of union support.”
Understandably, unions are alarmed by their dwindling numbers (35% in the mid-1950’s to just over 8% today). But numbers have declined in non-public employment in many industrialized countries, especially among younger workers. Perhaps it is not the secret ballot that accounts for the decline in unionization. Perhaps, American workers just don’t like unions as much as they used to. But if card check is enacted, their preferences won’t matter much.