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Secret Ballots and Human Rights

Voters use a secret ballot. Workers who want to create a union use a secret ballot (for now). So do prisoners of war.

Most people probably aren’t aware of it, but POWs do have a right to the secret ballot – something that workers would not have if the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law.

In addition to issues of treatment and medical care, POW voting rights are listed in the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. These accords clearly state that prisoners have the right to select representatives by secret ballot:   

“In all places where there are prisoners of war, except in those where there are officers, the prisoners shall freely elect by secret ballot, every six months, and also in case of vacancies, prisoners’ representatives entrusted with representing them before the military authorities, the Protecting Powers, the International Committee of the Red Cross and any other organization which may assist them. These prisoners’ representatives shall be eligible for re-election.”

Third Geneva Convention, Article 79, 08.12.49 (emphasis added)

So think about it: The secret ballot is considered to be such a basic human right that it’s even guaranteed in wartime. But U.S. workers on the home front would not be able to exercise that right if supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” have their way.  

And lest anyone think workers are no longer vulnerable to losing their right to a secret ballot, the AFL-CIO’s new president reiterated his support for the proposal in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that ran over the weekend: “Talk of a compromise on ‘card check’ isn't welcome either. ‘We're still pushing for that,’ says Mr. Trumka, referring to the provision that drops the secret ballot to unionize if more than half the employees sign cards to form a union in their workplace.”  

Add to that the act’s “disastrous” forced government contracts feature and projected job-killing abilities, and it’s clear that it should not become law.

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