I, like many others, have been horrified and appalled at the naked power grab by America’s unions with the incredibly Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act.” Under this proposed bill (threatened with filibuster by Senate Republicans and a presidential veto), employees considering unionizing can Freely Choose to publicly declare whether or not they wish to join a union, dispensing with that whole boring, tedious secret ballot process.
One element that has always puzzled me, though, is just how the backers of this assault on one of our most cherished democratic principles could rationalize it. It’s been a cornerstone of my beliefs that “no man is a villain in his own eyes,” so the supporters had to have some sort of reasoning on why they would do this.
In cases like this, I can always count on the Boston Globe. And they didn’t let me down.
According to one of their regular columnists, it isn’t about the ballot at all. It’s simply a measure to shorten the decision process, to minimize the time that the company can threaten and intimidate its workers while they weigh whether or not to unionize. The loss of the secret ballot step — which Mr. Kuttner glosses over in a most remarkable fashion — is seen as a small sacrifice.
In fact, Mr. Kuttner’s disposal of the whole matter is so remarkable, I feel compelled to quote the entire relevant section here:
Under current rules, a two-stage process requires a majority first to sign cards, followed by a protracted period leading up to an election. It’s during this interim phase that employers threaten rank and file workers, and fire their leaders — sending a powerful signal to other workers not to get cozy with unions.
So, does Mr. Kuttner (and, by extension, this measure’s elected supporters) advocate cutting down the “protracted period” between the signed cards and the election? Nah. That’s too much like honesty. Instead, toss the baby out with the bath water and get rid of the entire “protracted period” and election too.
After all, it’s not like unions to engage in their own forms of intimidation, thuggery, and corruption. Just ask Jimmy Hoffa. (Whoops.) Or any of the other Teamsters presidents — how many of them haven’t been indicted for corruption?
Besides, who knows just how those workers will vote, out of the careful sight of union “organizers?” If Guido ain’t there to make sure they vote right, why they might just vote their conscience, and not the way they oughta if they know what’s good for them.
I once had to drive through a union picket line. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life. I was threatened and insulted in ways the regular trolls can only fantasize about, and even having the police there barely checked them. Indeed, the cops informed me that they had to let the picketers hold me up for several minutes, walking back and forth across the road, shouting and waving their signs (and middle fingers,), while I was to not do a damned thing to “provoke” them. (In retrospect, I wish I’d blown them a kiss or two. That tends to really, really piss off angry people — especially men.) If they’re willing to act like that in public, in front of police officers, just how might they act in private, trying to “persuade” workers to sign union cards?
Yeah, companies can also intimidate workers. But it’s been a long, long time since that kind of intimidation involved threats of physical violence. And quite frankly, I have a bit more tolerance for corporate intimidation than union thuggery. It tends to involve less time at the doctor’s.
I find myself hoping that the Republican Senators don’t filibuster the measure, just vote against it and let it go to the President. This sort of horrific law doesn’t need to die a quiet death, it needs to be dragged out in full public view, held up for scorn and derision, and then executed by a presidential veto, “pour encourager les autres.”
But first, we need to see just who in Congress will not only tolerate, but actively support this heinous measure.