Voinovich: Card Check a bad idea

George Voinovich writes an essay today in Politico explaining why this normally pro-labor Republican will not support Card Check.  The Ohio Senator, who will retire at the end of this term, explains both of the poison-pill parts of the legislation, the elimination of the secret ballot and the government-imposed arbitration.  Both would damage the economy, and as Voinovich explains, neither are really necessary anyway:

Moreover, based on Congressional Research Service statistics I have reviewed, I do not believe that the underlying National Labor Relations Board process for conducting elections is so broken that it should be scrapped, which is what I believe this legislation will do. For instance, in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, unions won roughly 55 percent of the NLRB-conducted representation elections, a significant increase from FY1994 and FY1995, when unions won roughly 44 percent of those elections.

Over this period, the percentage of elections won by union organizers increased. And according to CRS statistics, in fiscal 2008, 95.1 percent of initial representation elections were conducted within 56 days of the filing of a petition seeking such an election, and the median time to proceed to an election was 38 days. These statistics suggest that the NLRB election process is working.

Voinovich tiptoes around the problem with the elimination of the secret ballot:

That is, if one of your co-workers and friends feels strongly about union representation, I would suspect that you might be more likely to agree to sign a petition in favor of this position because you do not wish to offend that person. While there is nothing nefarious about a desire to have good relationships with our co-workers and friends, I believe that a private ballot allows individuals to vote their conscience, without their employers or co-workers knowing how they voted — and without the social pressure that would accompany such a process.

That’s certainly a polite way of putting it.  EFCA eliminates the secret ballot by putting the decision to call for a traditional election in the hands of the union rather than the company, and the union won’t bother with a secret-ballot election if it qualifies by getting a majority of signed cards.  Unions will use “social pressure” to get to 51%, all right — social pressures like intimidation and harassment.  Workers aren’t worried about annoying their friends, they’re afraid of union thugs coming to their door demanding signatures.

The statistics that Voinovich cites shows the need for the secret ballot.  Unions win slightly more than half of all organizing elections now, based on qualifying through card signing.  If the secret ballot wasn’t needed, that should be closer to 100%.  Quite obviously, the card-check process is much more deficient than the secret ballot.

Voinovich rejects the other crown jewel of the unions as well:

For employees and employers entering into a collective bargaining agreement for the first time, such a short deadline might be completely unworkable. If the parties fail to reach agreement in 120 days, an outside, government-appointed arbitrator could force the parties into a binding contract.

By subjecting either party to binding arbitration outside the terms of an existing agreement, I believe that this legislation conflicts directly with fundamental tenets of American contract and labor law. Traditionally, the parties come to a meeting of the minds on the contract’s terms and conditions — after significant give and take. Having a third party with the ability to impose terms and conditions that neither party may want turns this long-standing principle on its head.

This is the real objective for the unions.  They want card check as a lever to get into the workplaces, but the arbitration gets them what they want without striking.  They want a friendly government bureaucracy, filled with fellow union members, setting the terms for the labor-management relationship in the private sector without having to have members walk off the job.  All they have to do is refuse to negotiate in good faith for four months, and they will get whatever they want from the Deus ex Governmenta that will force management to accept their terms under penalty of law.

Voinovich gets this one right.  Card Check is a disaster — and completely unnecessary.

Previous posts on Card Check: