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Secret ballots in voting on unions

March 10, 2007

Re "Why so threatened by a union card?" Current, March 4

This column reflects poorly on Jonathan Chait. The universal U.S. acceptance of the secret ballot about a century ago was a giant step forward in improving government, weakening political machines and freeing the voice of the common voter.

If cards are the new indicator of free worker choice, then a company that is unionized should only need to get a majority of the workers to sign a card to oust the union. After all, talking to someone about signing a card is not coercion, but, as Chait puts it, just "canvassing." I grew up in an area with strong unions, and anyone who dismisses the possibility of union coercion is naive.

Many middle-class Americans have better pay and a safer workplace in part because of union activities in the past. But this history also carries with it violence, corruption, decreased productivity and insane work rules. Perhaps changes are needed to make the opportunity to organize more practical for those who choose it. Whimsically tossing out the secret ballot should not be one of them.

BRYAN SELTZER

Lake Forest

*

Chait's column against secret ballot elections and in favor of Big Labor's "card check" union organizing bill derided our client, Mike Ivey, an employee of Daimler-Chrysler's Freightliner subsidiary, for standing up to union intimidation, and National Right to Work as "rabidly anti-union" for successfully defending Ivey's legal rights.

Ivey and his co-workers hardly withstood mere "canvassing" by union agents. During a four-year card-check union organizing drive, officials of the United Auto Workers unlawfully blocked workers' promised pay raises and only stopped when prosecuted by the federal labor board. Given the potential for harassment and abuse during such union drives, it is no wonder that polls show most Americans prefer the existing secret ballot election process for deciding whether to unionize.

STEFAN GLEASON

Vice president

National Right to Work

Legal Defense Foundation

Springfield, Va.

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