New Legislation Would Deny Workers the Right to Secret Ballot Elections in the Workplace
WASHINGTON, DC—February 6, 2007—New legislation introduced in Congress would strip away workers’ right to a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union, leaving workers far more vulnerable to coercion and intimidation during union organizing drives. The so-called “Employee Free Choice Act,” introduced yesterday by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), would replace secret ballot elections with a process called “card check” where a union is recognized in a workplace if a majority of workers sign a card in the presence of union organizers. The move is a reversal for Miller who in the past has been a vocal advocate for secret ballot elections during union organizing drives.
Under the card check process, the identity of workers who signed (or refused to sign) organizing cards would be made public to the union organizers, the worker’s employer and co-workers, leaving workers vulnerable to threats and intimidation from union bosses, management, or both.
“The printing industry is strongly against the so-called ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’” stated Lisbeth Lyons, Vice President of Government Affairs, Printing Industries of America (PIA). “Workers in our industry deserve the right to make these decisions free of any outside intimidation, whether from the union or from management. We believe that the only way to guarantee worker protection is through the continued use of federally supervised secret ballot elections so that personal decisions about whether to join a union remain private.”
Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that federally supervised secret ballot elections are the fairest and most foolproof method to determine whether a union has the support of a majority of employees. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that “It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wished of employees than a ‘card check.’” The Second Circuit ruled that “It is beyond dispute that the secret ballot election is a more accurate reflection of the employees’ true desires than a check of authorization cards collected at the behest of a union organizer,” while the Sixth Circuit stated that, “An election is the preferred method of determining the choice by employees of a collective bargaining representative.”
Rep. Miller himself has been an outspoken supporter of secret ballot elections during union organizing drives. Miller sent a letter in 2001 to Mexican government officials, stating “We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose…. We feel that the increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace.”
“It is at best curious, and at worst highly hypocritical, for Rep. Miller to support secret ballot elections in other countries, while at the same time seeking to deny American workers those same protections,” continued Lyons. “PIA plans to do everything we possibly can to defeat this legislation.”
About Printing Industries of America (PIA)
PIA is a part of PIA/GATF, the world’s largest graphic arts trade association representing an industry with more than 1.2 million employees and over $161 billion in revenue. PIA/GATF serves the interests of more than 12,000 member companies.