My uncle required a police escort to walk the 20 feet from the garage to his car door. He was 17-years-old, a good student living in a well-manicured suburb of St Louis West County. But he was a volunteer campaign worker for “Right to Work” in the summer of ’76, and there were union goons waiting for him at the end of the driveway. One sunny morning on his way out the door, one of the thugs asked him menacingly, “How’s your little nephew Stevie enjoying day camp?” I was seven at the time and didn’t even know what a union was.
“Nothing personal, just business,” I suppose.
Welcome to the charming world of union intimidation. It could be coming to your workplace, as early as this summer. It might even come to your front door in the dead of night.
Workforce.com reports the latest developments on the so-called “employee free-choice”:
Simmering labor legislation reached a boiling point on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, February 4.
Hundreds of union workers and other supporters of a bill that would make it easier for employees to establish bargaining units gathered in a rally across the street from the Senate.
The event marked the launch of an aggressive effort by organized labor to gain congressional approval — and a presidential signature — for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that will be introduced soon.
“Free choice” is the worst kind of Orwellian language. If EFCA becomes law, then the secret ballot traditionally used to determine unionization votes in this country would be replaced by “card checks.” When the union comes to your business, asking you to join, you’ll be asked to check “Yes” or “No” on a card. In public. And if union history is any guide, the man holding the card under your nose might be large, threatening, and unlikely to take kindly to a “No.”
Veteran journalist — and self-confessed “neo liberal” — Mickey Kaus reported last week that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, AFL-CIO) has promised to get EFCA passed as early as this summer. Kaus has long fought against “card check” legislation, recognizing that unionized workers — especially in the auto industry — can’t compete against non-union workers. And often for wages little better than their non-union competition. Witness the productivity of Toyota (or Honda, or BMW, etc.) factories in this country versus General Motors. And it’s not just the pay — Wagner Act-inspired adversarialism between management and labor guarantees stringent work rules that have all but put Detroit out of business.
The issue here isn’t just economic, it’s also civil rights. It took decades of hard work to bring secret ballots to all our elections — and for the first time in modern history, a hard-won right could be stripped away from American workers.
How likely is EFCA to become law? The Los Angeles Times reports that President Barack Obama’s own pick for secretary of labor, California Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D, UAW) has “ties to American Rights at Work, a tax-exempt group dedicated to helping workers unionize.” Solis, the story says, is “treasurer of the organization,” and “federal records show that the group lobbied Congress last year to pass the measure [EFCA].” The Senate was originally scheduled to vote on Solis’s appointment Thursday, but was forced to delay after revelations of her husband’s tax liens.
On Fox News Sunday last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that, “I myself am a strong supporter of that legislation.” The good news is, she seems to be in no rush to push the legislation through. The bad news is, she is an idiot. The very next words out of her mouth were, “But in terms of what we have to do in the first 100 days, we must address the needs of this country. Five hundred million people will lose their jobs each month until we have an economic package.” [Emphasis added.]
And President Obama? It’s hard to say just where he stands as president, but candidate Obama had this to say:
We need to stand up to the business lobby and pass the Employee Free Choice Act. That’s why I’ve been fighting for it in the Senate and that’s why I’ll make it the law of the land when I’m president of the United States.
EFCA proponents claim that their bill would make it easier for workers to form unions. That’s incorrect. Workers already have the ability to unionize wherever they see fit, using the same secret ballot they enjoy using in any other election. What EFCA would accomplish is to make is easier for unions to intimidate unwilling workers into accepting union domination. That’s not collective bargaining; that’s collective coercion.
Once upon a time, a young high school kid volunteering for his first political campaign needed the attention of a police officer to get safely across his parents’ driveway. What do you suppose your workplace — or even your front door — would be like if EFCA becomes law?