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The flaw in 'card check'

The Employee Free Choice Act contains worthy reforms, but it needs to preserve the secret ballot.

March 29, 2009

There are two courses to remedying this unacceptable status quo. The first is to revoke management's power to mandate a secret ballot, as proposed under the bill. The second -- and the one we support -- is to keep the secret ballot but change the context in which those votes are conducted, so that management no longer has undue power over the employees' decision-making process. This would mean stiffening penalties for unfair labor practices beyond merely the payment of back wages. The bill requires immediate investigation of retaliation claims and, for the first time, awards civil penalties of up to $20,000 for each violation. That's a good first step, but Congress should go even further, requiring neutral sites for elections and shortening the preelection period during which management can campaign, unimpeded, against the union.

Although we sympathize with the bill's efforts to address the balance of power between unions and management, we do not support it as written. Unions should be free to exercise their power on behalf of workers, but only after workers have designated them as their representatives in a process that reduces the possibility of intimidation from either side.

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