I noted yesterday that vetoing the Employee Free Choice Act, the mandatory card check bill that the House passed yesterday, would provide President George W. Bush a great opportunity to reconnect with and reenergize his conservative base. There’s been plenty of righteous noise about this bill from conservative pundits — but it’s not all just from the Right. Vetoing mandatory card check could give Bush a boost among some in the political center.
In today’s Washington Examiner, James Kirchick of The New Republic takes organized labor to task for taking “a decisive turn in an anti-democratic direction this week, with support for, and passage yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives of the deceivingly named Employee Free Choice Act.” No right winger, Kirchick challenges today’s labor leaders to live up to the ideals of one of the 20th century’s major labor figures:
“Throughout the Cold War, the American labor movement was a steadfast supporter of democracy. Recognizing the evil of the Soviet system, which, ironically for a self-proclaimed workers’ paradise banned free labor unions, American labor worked with other American and global civic institutions in bringing down communism.
“The AFL-CIO purged communist infiltrators from its ranks and under the visionary leadership of President Lane Kirkland, funneled millions of dollars to the Solidarity movement in Poland. Indeed, Fred Siegel once declared Kirkland ‘an architect of America’s victory in the Cold War’….
“Unions have a vital role to play in our society. But just as important is the democratic process by which workers go about forming them; a process that Lane Kirkland knew did not exist in the Soviet Union. So there’s one question we ought to ask union leaders this week: what do you have against the secret ballot?”
Further, on the Employee Free Choice Act’s supporters’ arguments for it — The new Democratic Congress had barely had time to roll into D.C. when The Nation issued an editorial endorsing a mandatory card check bill. In addition to regurgitating some union talking points, The Nation‘s editors provide this gem:
“Without this new law, employers will continue to ignore cards and demand elections, even though the only thing these elections have in common with democracy is the casting of ballots.”
So what is their definition of “democracy”? Apparently one in which the rules are skewed to favor one side — in this case a union seeking to organize a workplace.
“When employers are not hostile and unions organize a workplace through card checks rather than elections, the unions are much more likely to win. “
That’s not an argument; that’s an assertion of what they consider a preferred outcome. Further, if “When employers are not hostile” seems like an awkward and forced phrase, it’s because it is. In union lingo, employers “not being hostile” means that employers have a gag place on them; they cannot make their case. This is what happens under “neutrality agreements.” which usually accompany a card check procedure.
Unions sometimes organize through card check now, but, since it’s not required, why would an employee agree to such unfavorable term? Through what’s called a “corporate campaign.” This is a multi-faceted attack on a company’s reputation, usually carried with union allies, such as evironmental and left-wing religious groups. As former UNITE-HERE organizer Jennifer Jason, whose February 8 testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee I cited in a post yesterday, noted:
“As an Organizer for UNITE, I primarily worked on and later led ‘card check’ organizing campaigns. Depending on the situation, this meant that we either had a pre-existing ‘card check’ agreement with the company in question, or there was going to be a complicated and aggressive corporate campaign waged against a company in order to coerce an agreement, or I was working in a jurisdiction in which ‘card check’ was predetermined through legislation, such as in Quebec and Manitoba.” [Emphasis added.]
Now the unions want to make all of the United States like those two Canadian provinces. Apperently Big Labor finds that reputational extortion takest too much effort. (Thanks to Al Canata for the Nation link.)