The Miami Herald gives an update of sorts to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s opposition to Card Check, one of a number of bills stalled in Congress by the debacle of Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. Feinstein hasn’t moved an inch on her position, still maintaining that she sympathizes with her “friends in the labor community,” but she won’t upend business relations in the middle of the worst recession in decades. Labor has almost no chance of this coming to the floor until 2010 at the earliest, and Democrats won’t want to tackle this in an election year when they will need money from business interests as well as unions to cling to power in the House, so none of this is exactly pressing news.
However, one passage in the Herald’s report is worth highlighting:
Feinstein’s search for a middle ground has resulted in much lobbying from unions, including the California Labor Federation, the Service Employees International Union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Communications Workers of America.
To draw attention to the issue, union activists have been participating in vigils and picketing Feinstein’s offices in California. Last month, the nurses left hundreds of red roses, accompanied with personal notes, on the doorstep of her San Francisco home.
The nurses want Feinstein to know that employers “are trying to silence us,” Burger said.
So that’s how “silencing” works? I had no idea that “silencing” involved hiring lobbyists, holding demonstrations, and stalking Senators at their offices and homes. “Silencing” must also mean telling everyone, including the media, about being “silenced.”
Unionizing workplaces is not terribly difficult. Employees who want to unionize get enough cards signed to get an election, and then the workers get to vote on the issue. Unions want to skip that last step in order to allow the opportunity to browbeat workers into signing cards in the open rather than vote in secret. They also want the government to force concessions from employers that they themselves cannot win in negotiations through binding federal arbitration. Think of Card Check as the “public option” for private-sector management decisions, and one can see why some Democrats like the idea so much.
I’d suggest that Card Check opponents keep up their “silence” too, to make sure that Congress remains reluctant to bring this debate back to the front burner.