What people who’ve never seen union busters in action don’t get is this: it’s important that companies not be allowed to delay certifying the union if a majority of workers indicate that they want one–not even for just a couple of months. Most people haven’t been fired because they wanted a union or threatened with firing or made to sit through harangues about how the unions will eat their babies and charge them exorbitant dues. Good people don’t realize that the companies will threaten to close a plant altogether if forced to unionize (though they rarely actually do it). Normal people used to playing fair don’t grasp what sleazy tactics companies will get up to in those crucial two or three months.
Instead, when nice people hear that ex-state senator John Loudon is working for a ballot initiative that would require secret elections before unions could be certified–and such elections would entail those disastrous three month delays–they think: “Who could complain about secret elections? They’re the basis of democracy.”
These sweet, clueless people need to understand Clark’s analogy:
Imagine holding a statewide election where one side was able to require attendance of all voters to watch propaganda films on why the other side is wrong. Imagine that that same side could ship volunteers for the other side outside the state, or cut off their voting rights altogether. Imagine further that the same side could decide to shut down the entire state if they lost the election, or drag their feet on the results by claiming various technical problems until they can get a re-vote (OK, that’s already happening with Norm Coleman.) That’s what we have under current law with the supposedly sacred “secret ballot” elections for our workplaces. This is what Mike Cunningham wants to enshrine into our state constitution as the only possible way to decide whether or not a workplace should be unionized.
No, if 51 percent of the workers sign a card (it’s called card check) saying they want a union, they should be allowed to certify the union without waiting, if they choose.
Ed Finkelstein, owner and editor of the Labor Tribune, spoke at the March West County Dems meeting, about the Employee Free Choice Act that Congress will be voting on in the next year to year and a half. He explained why labor and, in fact, this country need the EFCA and need card check. As union membership has declined to a mere seven or eight percent, most of us have been taking it on the chin financially while the wealthy light their cigars with thousand dollar bills. The top ten percent of the earners have gotten ninety percent of the income gains, and the top one percent have reaped sixty percent of the income gains. We need legislation that gives unions a decent chance to form and to protect working people.
And there’s more to the EFCA than just the card check requirement. I’ll let Finkelstein explain it to you, but be warned: there will be a quiz. Be prepared to explain the three critical provisions of EFCA.
(He begins by describing a Chamber of Commerce meeting he attended as a young man.)
Nationwide, those determined to stonewall EFCA will spend at least a couple of hundred million dollars. And their campaign will be shrewd. Republicans may be dead wrong about what’s good for this country, but they are so smart about appealing to our emotions. The nationwide opposition to EFCA, as well as the SOS (Save Our Secret ballot) campaign here in Missouri, will pretend to be on the side of truth, God, the American way, democracy and the sanctity of secret elections. They’ll invoke the horror stories of one candidate elections in the old Soviet Union, with members of the commissariat peering over a voter’s shoulder to make sure he voted properly.
On the other side, labor will spend millions to fight the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its minions and will organize at the grassroots to get the message out about why we need this legislation. But it will be a tough battle because they’ll be fighting not just cynical big business but all the nice people who just don’t get it.