WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 25, 2009 -
The secret ballot is a hallmark of our democratic society. It guarantees that individuals can vote their conscience, free from public pressure, coercion, or the threat of retribution. The secret ballot is vital to individual freedom – and yet it is under assault.
American workers in particular are seeing their right to a secret ballot eroded. Under current federal labor law, when a union attempts to organize a workplace, workers ultimately choose whether or not they wish to be represented through a private, federally-supervised secret ballot election. However, in a minority of organizing efforts, businesses and unions decide not to use the secret ballot, allowing workers to be organized by the far more troubling “card check” method.
Under a card check, union organizers ask workers to publicly declare whether or not they support a union by asking them to sign an authorization card. When a simple majority of workers have been convinced – by their free choice or not – to sign a card, the union is automatically certified. Workers are not able to vote by secret ballot.
There is a move afoot in Congress to impose mandatory “card check” recognition for all workplace organizing efforts. That means that workers will never again be guaranteed the right to a secret ballot election; instead, as the legislation makes clear, a union will be recognized as soon as a majority of workers have been publicly convinced to sign the cards. Legislation is needed to reverse this dangerous trend, and to create a firewall against the radical “card check” movement that would permanently eliminate secret ballots in the workplace. That legislation is the Secret Ballot Protection Act.
The Secret Ballot Protection Act (H.R. 1176) ensures that no one – not unions, not companies – can deny workers the right to a secret ballot. The legislation is simple, but vital. It guarantees that all future workplace organizing drives will be resolved with the protections of a secret ballot. Rather than subjecting workers to intimidation and possible retribution that could come from a “card check” process, a federally-supervised secret ballot election will be guaranteed.
It has been estimated that “card check” legislation would disenfranchise 105 million American workers. The Secret Ballot Protection Act would defend these workers and ensure the secret ballot remains the standard for protecting workers rights.
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