Irony escapes the House Democratic Caucus

It’s a secret ballot, thank the Lord,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), about keeping her vote on the Dingell-Waxman caucus election secret.

John Boehner highlighted this quote as one reason the House Republican Caucus will vociferously oppose the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), better known as Card Check.  He challenged the Democrats’ hypocrisy in closing the ballots on politically tough votes within their caucuses while leaving employees open to harassment and intimidation in the workplace on organizing votes:

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner said Democrats’ use of secret ballots to chose its leadership was ironic because the party wants to nix workers’ rights to a secret voting in deciding whether to unionize.

“The secret ballot election is a cornerstone of our American democracy,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Thursday. “If it is good enough for House Democrats to rely on during today’s high-stakes vote, shouldn’t it be good enough for millions of American workers across America who value their workplace privacy?”

He vowed Republicans would stand firmly against the Democrat’s “card-check” legislation – dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act or EFCA. It would allow organizers to unionize a workplace by gathering enough singed cards rather than the current process of employees deciding by secret ballots.

I’ve made this point a couple of times this week, but it’s good to see Republican leaders making the same connection.  Democrats went to the secret ballot for obvious reasons in both the Waxman/Dingell chairmanship election and the resolution of Joe Lieberman’s chair on Homeland Security in the Senate.  They didn’t want to be held personally and individually responsible for their positions, more so in the latter case than the former.

In fact, let’s get specific.  Had they conducted the Lieberman vote openly, as Card Check would work, the Senate Democrats may not have allowed Lieberman to retain his seat.  The netroots organizers would have intimidated these Democrats into voting Lieberman out.  Instead, protected by the anonymity of the secret ballot, they reached a more rational and productive solution, and none of the 42 Senators who voted for it have to worry about individual retribution.

Nancy Pelosi says that EFCA won’t take away the secret ballot, but only the right of the employer to demand one.  Gee, that will make anti-union employees feel so much better.  Under the EFCA, they will have to request a secret ballot, rather than having it occur naturally through the competing interests of management and labor.  Just the act of demanding a secret ballot will identify which employees to intimidate into acquiescence.  After all, if they wanted to vote for the union, they’d just sign the cards — right?

You can thank the Lord for the secret ballot when you’re a Democratic Congresswoman, but if you’re a worker, you’ll have to blame Congress for its absence when the union’s “community organizers” insist you sign their card.

Previous posts on Card Check: