California Card Check: Just Sign Here

The card check bill soon to be sitting on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk is another attempt by labor unions to take away worker rights. Discussion of Senate Bill 104 has contained little to remind us exactly how labor organizers use card check to violate worker’s privacy.

The proposed legislation goes beyond the effective abolition of a worker’s right to a secret ballot in elections for union representation. The bill requires employers to provide unions with detailed information about their employees. The text of the legislation stipulates:

[T]he employer shall provide a complete and accurate list of the full names, current street addresses, job classifications, and crew or department of all currently employed employees in the bargaining unit. The employer shall organize the employees’ names and addresses and other information by crew or department and shall provide the list to the board and petitioning labor organization in hard copy and electronic format. The employees’ first name, middle name or initial, last name, address, city, state, ZIP Code, classification, and crew or department shall be organized into separate columns.

Labor union organizers often use this information to harass and agitate workers at home. In her 2007 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, former organizer Jennifer Jason described her four years working for UNITE HERE:

As organizers, we were taught to play upon the element of surprise to get in [the employees’] door. We were trained to perform a five-part house-call strategy that includes introductions, listening, agitation, union solution, and commitment.

As an organizer working under a card-check system, I could quickly agitate a set of workers into signing cards. I didn’t have to prove the union’s case. I didn’t have to answer complicated questions asked to me by workers. And I didn’t have to answer for the service record of my union. Card-check campaigns also have little to do with giving workers information. We were trained to avoid topics such as dues increases in the specter of a strike.

The logic follows that if you can keep a worker agitated and direct their anger at their boss, you can pretty much get them to sign anything.

This testimony is a striking reminder of what Big Labor will do with the information the California card-check law would give them. Restricting the use of the secret ballot for farm workers would open the floodgates to labor organizers and begin an assault on personal privacy in family homes.