“Union Members Oppose Employee Free Choice” and Other Knee Slappers By W. James Antle III
(Update: Mr. Antle followed up with a post where he discusses the question posed in the McLaughlin & Associates poll. You can find it here — jh)
The American Spectator has an article today about a McLaughlin & Associates poll which indicates "opposition to card check legislation among union households."
Well well, enquiring minds want to know more! Funny, no links or cross-tabs. In fact, not even any questions. Author W. James Antle III notes that "it would be interesting to see some of the precise wording." Yes, it would. But I guess his intellectual curiosity didn’t extend quite so far as to inquire before printing the somewhat startling conclusions of the press release he got:
Three out of four voters (74%) oppose the "The Employee Free Choice Act”. Union households also strongly oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, 74% oppose to only 20% support.
When given a more detailed description of the Employee Free Choice Act, nearly 9 out of 10 voters, 86%, feel the process should remain private and only 8% feel it should be public information. Again, even union workers feel strongly that the process should be kept private, as 88% said private and only 8% said public.
We strive for a bit more intellectual rigor around here, so let’s look into what Republican pollsters McLaughlin & Associates consider "a more detailed description" of the Employee Free Choice Act. Ambinder:
Pollster John McLaughlin, working for the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace,the question this way: There is a bill in Congress called the Employee Free Choice Act which would effectively replace a federally supervised secret ballot election with a process that requires a majority of workers to simply sign a card to authorize organizing a union and the workers’ signatures would be made public to their employer, the union organizers and their co-workers. Do you support or oppose Congress passing this legislation.
"Worker’s signatures would be made public to their employer, their union organizers and their co-workers." Yes, one can see where that might make union members uncomfortable. Who would guess that it’s a zombie lie?
I wrote a detailed description the other day about how secret ballot works vs. majority signup ("card check"), and I guess we’ll just have to keep repeating it until it sinks in:
This is the "secret ballot" process, which is in place right now:
A union decides they want to unionize workers of a particular company. They have to collect cards signed by more than 30% of that company’s eligible workers saying that they want to join the union and allow that union to negotiate with management on their behalf. The union usually does this by talking to workers and gathering signatures outside the work place, frequently at their homes, because companies have a bad habit of firing workers who try to organize (Dean Baker estimates one in five lose their jobs).
The union then turns the cards over to the NLRB, who verifies them and calls for an election. Now in practice, although the union only has to have cards signed by more than 30% of the workers they usually present 50%, because they know there is going to be intense pressure put on workers by employers and professional "union busters," and they don’t want to waste their time unless they think there is serious support.
The NLRB is required to then set a date for a "secret ballot" election within 42 days, during which time workers are usually subject to various forms of intimidation. It’s easy for employers to ask for and receive extensions, however. When the "secret ballot" election is finally held, it’s conducted on the work premises, and workers have to file past the watchful eyes of their supervisors in order to cast their ballots. This is the "right" to "secrecy" that the anti-union forces seem to be so committed to preserving.
If more than 50% of workers vote to let the union to represent them, the union is recognized and they can begin negotiating with the employer for a first contract.
This is how majority sign-up ("card check") would work under the Employee Free Choice Act:
A union decides they want to unionize workers of a particular company. They have to collect cards signed by more than 50% of that company’s eligible workers saying that they want to join the union and allow that union to negotiate with management on their behalf.
The union then turns the cards over to the NLRB, who verifies them.
If more than 50% of the cards are verified by the NLRB, the union is recognized and they can begin negotiating with the employer for a first contract.
"Secret ballot" isn’t "more secret," it’s an extra step. In both cases, the union is responsible for getting cards signed and turning them over to the NLRB, so they know who has signed them. The "secret ballot" is just an extra hurdle that workers have to surmount if they want to recognize a union.
Union organizers know who signed the cards in both majority signup and "secret ballot," but at no point are signatures shown to "employers" or "fellow workers," they go straight to the NLRB. It’s just pure horseshit to say anything else, but W. James Antle III is all too willing to accept the deeply flawed data of The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (which he describes as "an organization, should be noted, that opposes the Employee Free Choice Act." Ya think?)
Yo Jim. I don’t know if you’re consciously passing on these lies or just easily played by lobbyists, but it looks bad for you either way. There’s a reason they didn’t include the language of the question on the press release. It’s nonsense.
Sure, your wingnut bretheren will pat you on the back and applaud your willingness to "defend conservative views in hostile territory" or the terrorists win or something. But the Coalition For A Democratic Workplace is a deep pockets project of the Chamber, NAM and the RILA (whose biggest member is WalMart), and their commitment to a "democratic workplace" is just a wee bit questionable.
Lobbyist Mike Murphy, with time on his hands now that his unwanted advice to the McCain campaign is no longer needed, is being well paid to shovel this kind of nonsense.
What’s your excuse?
Update: You don’t want to become the next Bill Kristol, Jim: "His conservative ideas were cutting edge and influential,” I was told. “But his sloppy writing and failure to fact check what he wrote made us queasy.”