This is a few months old but is informative none-the-less about what is going on in Congress.
September 10, 2006
Tom Vilsack, Rallying Dems 'Round an Anti-Democracy Cause
National Assoc of Manufacturers;
Interesting piece by David Broder in today's WaPo, praising Iowa Governor and likely Presidential candidate Tom Vilsack and the issue he has found to rally diverse elements of the Democrat party. The good news for the Dems is that Vilsack has rallied them -- from the Democratic Leadership Council to the AFL-CIO. The bad news for the Dems is that the issue is the anti-democracy "card check" bill that's bouncing around the Congress. The bill would allow unions to gain recognition of an employee group short of an election. In being so blatantly against secret ballot elections, the bill is as flagrantly anti-democracy as they come.
The way it works under current law (the same law that saw the unions expand their ranks in the 50's, 60's and 70's) is that if a union wants to represent a given workforce, they need to get "authorization cards" signed by 30% of that workforce. What union organizers do, of course, is, uh, visit people face-to-face and, uh, urge them to sign the cards. Some have even used the word "intimidation" in describing this process. Imagine that. If they get enough cards, they have an election. Whaddaya know? A bunch of people who, uh, voluntarily signed those cards end up voting against the union. And so "Foul!" cry the unions. Their proposal -- since they keep losing elections -- is to lower the bar. In other words, how 'bout we just let the union win if we can get enough people to, uh, voluntarily sign cards that say, "I want to join a union"?
As unions have seen their numbers dwindle, they have found everyone on earth to blame but themselves. Remember that for 8 years of the Clinton Administration -- friendly to labor -- their numbers continued to sink. The card check bill -- that flies under the misnomer, "Employee Free Choice Act" -- is championed by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) who will be chair of the Education and Workforce Committee if the Democrats take control of the House.
How ironic would it be if America -- champions of democracy all over the globe -- abandoned secret ballot elections right here at home? Mark us down as pro-democracy. We continue to favor secret ballot elections. Let's hope Tom Vilsack can rally the Dems around an issue that smells just a little more like democracy.
Posted by Pat Cleary at September 10, 2006 12:00 PM