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Card Check Activism and Secret Ballot Hypocrisy

As the clock winds down on the House Democratic Majority, workers may be feeling a sense of relief that the assault on the secret ballot is finally ending. But they shouldn't get too comfortable yet – not if unelected bureaucrats in the Obama administration have anything to say about it. A recent ruling by the Obama National Labor Relations Board suggests the threat to the secret ballot will survive long after Nancy Pelosi surrenders the Speaker’s gavel.

In a December 6 ruling, the NLRB determined that card check is a perfectly fine method of organizing a union so long as the union and employer enter into a “letter of agreement.” As a refresher, card check is a method in which workers are required to publicly declare their preference on whether to join a particular union by choosing whether or not to sign a card.

As an editorial by the Washington Examiner makes clear, “With the Dana decision, the NLRB thus becomes yet another illustration of Obama's willingness to use bureaucratic edicts, this time resulting from an administrative law case, to advance something on his agenda that not even the Democratic Congress would support.”

Advocates for card check have run into bipartisan opposition in Congress, so they are hoping to do an end-run on the people’s elected representatives by taking their case to the unaccountable members of the NLRB. Whether workers retain their right to a secret ballot is a question that should be debated and decided in the halls of Congress, not in the private offices of government bureaucrats.

A secret ballot is critical to ensure elections are free of coercion and intimidation, allowing voters to cast their ballots without fear of retaliation.

Ironically, the Democrats who have worked without success (so far) to take away secret ballots for workers are all too familiar with their virtues. After losing the support of a smaller group of Democratic leaders in his bid to be the senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) pledged to “ask for a secret-ballot vote of the full caucus on Thursday morning, as is his right.” Ultimately, this long-time supporter of the job-killing card check scheme exercised his right and won. Workers will probably not appreciate the irony of a senior Democrat demanding the secret ballot for his Democratic colleagues while taking away that right from everyday Americans.

It’s not the first time a Democratic lawmaker has sought political refuge behind a secret ballot while attempting to deny the very same right to rank and file workers. And sadly, it probably won’t be the last.

The Obama administration’s determination to impose card check through regulatory fiat underscores the urgent need for Congress to enact the Secret Ballot Protection Act. Doing so will end once and for all the threat to workers’ right to a secret ballot union election.