…does organized labor need a PR operation? In today’s Politico, Jeanne Cummings repeats — without qualification — the half-truth that supporters of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) have been peddling recently: that EFCA would give workers the choice of whether to organize through a secret ballot election or through a card check procedure, in which employees sign union cards out in the open, usually at the urging of union organizers.
The legislation doesn’t prohibit the traditional process of elections and secret ballots. If a majority of workers want to proceed that way, they still could.
Cummings leaves out an important detail: if the union lets them.
EFCA imposes no time limit on the period during which union organizers may collect signatures on cards and no limit on how and where they may do so. Organizers can go back to try to get workers to sign again and again, and wherever they can — including at workers’ homes.
As a result, unions will have zero incentive to turn in cards until they get the requisite 50 percent-plus-one of employees to sign, which requires the National Labor Relations Board to certify the union as exclusive employee bargaining agent.
Therefore, while EFCA may not explicitly prohibit secret ballot organizing elections, it makes secret ballots a dead letter through the legal organizing regime it sets up. Under EFCA, the choice of whether to hold an election will rest with union organizers alone, who always prefer card check.
On the other hand, Cummings is correct to note that EFCA opponents, seeing the bil losing support, should not celebrate yet. She also presents a good summary description of the debate, and how it has shifted. This isn’t over by a long shot.