Discussion:
McGovern slams unions
(too old to reply)
Dennis
2008-08-09 18:06:12 UTC
Permalink
OPINION FROM WSJ

HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots

By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic
presidential candidate

As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the
presidency, I've participated in my share of vigorous public debates over
issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or
reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the
curtain and cast their vote. I didn't always win, but I always respected the
process.

Voting is an immense privilege.

That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this
freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must
raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and
undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor.

The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say
it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement.
Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who
would speak.

The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are
formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot
overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need
to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or
bargaining unit, a system known as "card-check." There are many documented
cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated
into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private,
the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder,
free from fear of reprisal.

There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that
protect individuals from unfair treatment. They have been a friend to the
Democratic Party, and so I oppose this legislation respectfully and with
care.

To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips
working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party
that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure
the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be
a betrayal of what we have always championed.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress -- including Reps.
Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney
Frank of Massachusetts -- have advised that workers in developing countries
such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not
their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees
in our country.

I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA's true
ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a
desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of
being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends "no" when they
press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried
and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

While it is never pleasant to stand against one's party or one's friends,
there are times when such actions are necessary -- as with my early and
lonely opposition to the Vietnam War. I hope some of my friends in Congress
will re-evaluate their support for this legislation. Because as Americans,
we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression
and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Here are two letters to the editor supporting McGovern's position:

While many may gasp at Wal-Mart's politically incorrect approach to unions
and politics ("Wal-Mart Warns of Democratic Win," Aug. 1), you do have to
respect their determination to defend both the jobs of their employees and
shareholder value. What happens when an industry is unionized? Take a look
at classic union industries: steel, a ghost of itself, circling the drain
with most American steelworker jobs gone; autos, flailing about, gasping to
survive against competition from abroad, with continued loss of market
share, stock value and jobs; airlines, hemorrhaging money and powerless to
reorganize for life-saving effectiveness because of union constraints; and
education, failing to teach Johnny to read, while the union defends those
who failed him rather than assisting the dedicated ones who can help him.

With this track record, unions shouldn't be surprised that their membership
has declined. Unions consume companies and industries, and they destroy the
jobs of the people they claim to represent. Unions served a valuable purpose
in the past, and could again if they worked to solve systemic problems and
help their industries move forward as partners with the companies. But for
now, they serve as a harbinger of the death of industries, the loss of
shareholder value, the elimination of jobs for hard-working Americans and a
failure for our society.

Tom Van Kleef
Fort Worth, Texas

Your article might just provide a gentle push into the "decided" column for
"undecided" voters. Sen. John McCain opposes the Employee Free Choice Act
because it abolishes a worker's right to a secret ballot in deciding the
union question, while Sen. Barack Obama, a co-sponsor of the legislation,
supports a carding system that allows union organizers to openly collect
signatures, with one important caveat: There is only a "yes" option, making
the process devoid of both choice and anonymity.

Dori Devereux
Pasadena, Calif.
**********
Comments on Union's ham-handedness, anyone?

Dionysus
Titix
2008-08-09 19:30:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting with
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well, the time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they just
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging all
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not just
the top 2%.
Dennis
2008-08-09 20:09:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting with
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well, the time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they just
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging all
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not just
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision, discordant and
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your petty
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get back
to us.

Dionysus
Titix
2008-08-09 21:46:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting with
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well, the time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they just
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging all
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not just
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision, discordant and
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your petty
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get back
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace which OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little safer
to eat.
Crescentius Vespasianus
2008-08-10 01:28:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision, discordant
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your petty
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace which OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little safer
to eat.
----------------
kind of spread the mess GM,Ford and Chrysler are in, nationwide. Sounds
like a good plan. Maybe we can get our unemployment rates up to
European levels of 12-18%, with 50% of anyone under 30 without a job.
But that's progress, I guess.
Dennis
2008-08-10 11:43:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting
with
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well, the time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they just
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging
all
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision, discordant
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your petty
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace which OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little safer
to eat.
**********
Yep, your cranial/anal disease has just been confirmed.

Dionysus
Titix
2008-08-11 15:39:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this
country.
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for
laws
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting
with
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well,
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they just
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging
all
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision, discordant
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your petty
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace which OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little safer
to eat.
**********
Yep, your cranial/anal disease has just been confirmed.
Dionysus
And your tendency for anal thoughts have been confirmed.
Dennis
2008-08-11 16:00:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this
country.
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped
build
a
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for
laws
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of the 3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting
with
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well,
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging
all
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision,
discordant
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your
petty
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace which OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little
safer
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
to eat.
**********
Yep, your cranial/anal disease has just been confirmed.
Dionysus
And your tendency for anal thoughts have been confirmed.
*********
Only when I think of you, prolapsed and hemorroidal ass that you are.

Dionysus
Titix
2008-08-11 16:56:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this
country.
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped
build
a
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for
laws
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan, starting
with
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power. Well,
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging
all
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there will be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision,
discordant
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your
petty
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and the
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then get
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace
which
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little
safer
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
to eat.
**********
Yep, your cranial/anal disease has just been confirmed.
Dionysus
And your tendency for anal thoughts have been confirmed.
*********
Only when I think of you, prolapsed and hemorroidal ass that you are.
Dionysus
Please, don't think of me, I don't want to be in your dirty thoughts.
Dennis
2008-08-11 17:57:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
OPINION FROM WSJ
HEAD: My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots
By GEORGE MCGOVERN, former senator from South Dakota and the 1972
Democratic
Post by Dennis
presidential candidate
"There's no question that unions have done much good for this
country.
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Their
tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped
build
a
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for
laws
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
that
protect individuals from unfair treatment."
-------------
Without a union the corporate America would have us like most of
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
3rd
world countries.
(The have and the have not) The pendulum swung with Reagan,
starting
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
with
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Airport controllers,
and he saw to it that all unions lost their bargaining power.
Well,
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
time
is now approaching
for the pendulum to swing back. And if the corporations think they
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
close shop and finish
the jobs here, they better think again, the pendulum will be swinging
all
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
over the world, and
with a government for all the people and by the people, there
will
be
provisions in the horizon
that will change things in this country to benefit all the people not
just
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
the top 2%.
*************
Ah, 9Titties, again you merely amuse with your tunnel vision,
discordant
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
and
Post by Dennis
barely discernable rambling rants, and inability to see beyond your
petty
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
prejudices. Go back and re-read McGovern, that old socialist, and
the
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
Post by Dennis
Letters to The Editor that support his reasonable contention, then
get
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
back
Post by Dennis
to us.
Dionysus
Heheheh, Dennis, I'll get back to you after the elections in Nov. or better
yet,
after January when Democrats take complete control of all branches.
Labor laws will again be revisited including safety in workplace
which
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
OSHA
has neglected for several years, and our food may get to be a little
safer
Post by Dennis
Post by Titix
to eat.
**********
Yep, your cranial/anal disease has just been confirmed.
Dionysus
And your tendency for anal thoughts have been confirmed.
*********
Only when I think of you, prolapsed and hemorroidal ass that you are.
Dionysus
Please, don't think of me, I don't want to be in your dirty thoughts.
**********
Ah, 9Titties, how can one not think of you when thinking of "dirty" little
things?

Dionysus
zzpat
2008-08-10 14:46:48 UTC
Permalink
The question comes down to one thing "a secret ballot." Is it necessary
for a ballot to be secret? That's open to debate. Our founding fathers
signed the Declaration of Independence and with their names began a
revolution. It wasn't done in secret.

The Constitutional Congress didn't use a secret ballot. Our own
Congress and state legislatures don't use a secret ballot.

The first secret ballots in the US came in 1850s and most states didn't
have secret ballots until the late 1800's. One state (West Virgina)
still allows open ballots.

Let the debate continue...but first we have to know a little history.

Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's
just me.
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/

Impeach Search Engine:
http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=012146513885108216046:rzesyut3kmm
Dennis
2008-08-10 15:42:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by zzpat
The question comes down to one thing "a secret ballot." Is it necessary
for a ballot to be secret? That's open to debate. Our founding fathers
signed the Declaration of Independence and with their names began a
revolution. It wasn't done in secret.
The Constitutional Congress didn't use a secret ballot. Our own Congress
and state legislatures don't use a secret ballot.
The first secret ballots in the US came in 1850s and most states didn't
have secret ballots until the late 1800's. One state (West Virgina) still
allows open ballots.
Let the debate continue...but first we have to know a little history.
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's just
me.
**********
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union thugs
are watching as you vote against their interests...see what it gets you.
Rent On The Waterfront for a lesson.

Dionysus
Post by zzpat
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/
http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=012146513885108216046:rzesyut3kmm
zzpat
2008-08-10 16:19:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
**********
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union
thugs are watching as you vote against their interests...see what it
gets you. Rent On The Waterfront for a lesson.
Dionysus
You've been listening to far too much right wing tripe. Most people
don't care what other people think. We all do what's in our own best
interest whether it's done in secret or not.
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/

Impeach Search Engine:
http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=012146513885108216046:rzesyut3kmm
Dennis
2008-08-10 19:04:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
**********
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union
thugs are watching as you vote against their interests...see what it gets
you. Rent On The Waterfront for a lesson.
Dionysus
You've been listening to far too much right wing tripe. Most people don't
care what other people think. We all do what's in our own best interest
whether it's done in secret or not.
*********
Bullshit!! It that was true the unions wouldn't have any reason not to
encourage secret ballots if for no other reason than to show us all they
have nothing to hide.

Dionysus
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/
http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=012146513885108216046:rzesyut3kmm
zzpat
2008-08-10 23:29:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Post by zzpat
Post by Dennis
**********
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union
thugs are watching as you vote against their interests...see what it
gets you. Rent On The Waterfront for a lesson.
Dionysus
You've been listening to far too much right wing tripe. Most people
don't care what other people think. We all do what's in our own best
interest whether it's done in secret or not.
*********
Bullshit!! It that was true the unions wouldn't have any reason not to
encourage secret ballots if for no other reason than to show us all they
have nothing to hide.
Dionysus
The Congress doesn't have secret ballots. Why not? Our founding fathers
saw nothing wrong with open ballots, in fact, they wrote it into the
Constitution that votes must be public.

Should unions have a lower standard than Congress? That's open to
debate...and so far there is no solid reason explaining why secret
ballots are necessary or better than open balloting.
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/

Impeach Search Engine:
http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=012146513885108216046:rzesyut3kmm
robert bowman
2008-08-11 05:10:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by zzpat
You've been listening to far too much right wing tripe. Most people
don't care what other people think. We all do what's in our own best
interest whether it's done in secret or not.
Recent election outcomes suggest most people couldn't find their best
interest with both hands. As far as the rugged individual who doesn't
care for what other people think, there is a couple of thousand years of
history that suggests that is a very rare individual.
Kickin' Ass and Takin' Names
2008-08-11 08:59:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union thugs
are watching as you vote against their interests
". . . union thugs."

And as we all know, management NEVER employs thugs, threats of firing,
and other intimidation to get their way. Right?
Dennis
2008-08-11 14:27:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union thugs
are watching as you vote against their interests
". . . union thugs."

And as we all know, management NEVER employs thugs, threats of firing,
and other intimidation to get their way. Right?
**********
Well, KATN, if there is a secret ballot, that means no union thugs in the
voting booth...no managment thugs either. Hope this is not too tough for you
to grasp. Of course, there is one other thing to consider; he who signs the
paycheck should have the final say as to how his employees work, right!

Dionysus
John Galt
2008-08-11 19:02:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
That is admirable in the abstract, but try it when two or three union thugs
are watching as you vote against their interests
". . . union thugs."

And as we all know, management NEVER employs thugs, threats of firing,
and other intimidation to get their way. Right?

{JG} PERSONALLY, I am unaware of management "thuggery" in recent history,
wherein threats of physical violence are used to coerce behavior.

As you point out, corporations prefer to use legal (but perhaps of
questionable morality) means to coerce behavior when they are involved in
such activities.

JG
Baldin Lee Pramer
2008-08-10 17:11:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by zzpat
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's
just me.
There are millions of people in the US who could, and may of them
would, be fired if their bosses knew who they voted for. In different
times, you might be targeted for death because of your politics. I
think secret ballots are a good idea. If you want your vote to be
known, then you can tell the world.

BLP
zzpat
2008-08-10 18:01:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Baldin Lee Pramer
Post by zzpat
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's
just me.
There are millions of people in the US who could, and may of them
would, be fired if their bosses knew who they voted for. In different
times, you might be targeted for death because of your politics. I
think secret ballots are a good idea. If you want your vote to be
known, then you can tell the world.
BLP
I understand your point. I mean, it's nearly impossible to find someone
who says he voted for Bush, but we know a lot of really dumb people did.

People come into groups like this and tell the world what they think but
then turn around and say they're afraid to tell someone face to face.

IMO, it's sad that so many people are afraid to associate (or
disassociate) with whomever they choose. We used to have a
constitutional right "of the people peaceably to assemble."

It's gotten out of control of course. Wal Mart simply threatens to
close any store that tries to unionize. The right to assemble peaceably
can and does result in the loss of ones job. There are solutions, but
not from this Supreme Court, or this Congress or this President.

The Constitution (especially in recent years) has become a meaningless
document. Maybe all this secrecy makes it far to easy to destroy who
and what we are and what we stand for.
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/

Impeach Search Engine:
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Dennis
2008-08-10 19:05:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by zzpat
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's
just me.
There are millions of people in the US who could, and may of them
would, be fired if their bosses knew who they voted for. In different
times, you might be targeted for death because of your politics. I
think secret ballots are a good idea. If you want your vote to be
known, then you can tell the world.
**************
Great response, good on you.

Dionysus

BLP
zzpat
2008-08-10 23:36:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Baldin Lee Pramer
Post by zzpat
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's
just me.
There are millions of people in the US who could, and may of them
would, be fired if their bosses knew who they voted for. In different
times, you might be targeted for death because of your politics. I
think secret ballots are a good idea. If you want your vote to be
known, then you can tell the world.
**************
Great response, good on you.
Dionysus
BLP
Again, I return to the Wal Mart example. Not only does Wal Mart shut
down stores that attempt to unionize but they've recently been caught
telling their employees to vote for republicans because Democrats
support a "living wage."

Clearly, this type of "Influence" is disturbing but anyone suggesting
the problem is only in the "unions" is out of touch with reality. We
need stronger laws forbidding this type of behavior and it needs to be
criminalized. How a person votes should have absolutely no influence on
their job.

In fact, any business with any sense of modern economic history knows
the economy always grows far better under Democrats than under
debt-ridden republicans. According to Forbes Magazine our best post WW2
presidents are Clinton, LBJ and Kennedy so Democrats know how to get
the economy growing again.
--
Impeach Bush
http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/

Impeach Search Engine:
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John Galt
2008-08-11 05:29:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by zzpat
The question comes down to one thing "a secret ballot." Is it necessary
for a ballot to be secret?
Yes.
Post by zzpat
That's open to debate. Our founding fathers signed the Declaration of
Independence and with their names began a revolution. It wasn't done in
secret.
Not relevant. The positions of the Founders vis a vis independence were
already known when they agreed to participate in the meetings. All that
mattered was to work out the specifics.
Post by zzpat
The Constitutional Congress didn't use a secret ballot. Our own Congress
and state legislatures don't use a secret ballot.
Again, not relevant. These are elected officials, and they are held to
standards of accountability by their constitutents.
Post by zzpat
The first secret ballots in the US came in 1850s and most states didn't
have secret ballots until the late 1800's. One state (West Virgina) still
allows open ballots.
Let the debate continue...but first we have to know a little history.
Not a problem. let's just include the history as to WHY secret ballots
evolved.
Post by zzpat
Personally, I don't care who sees whom I vote for...but maybe that's just
me.
It's just you, and if you thought that there was a tangible possibility that
some nutcase might take offense at your vote and beat you to a pulp over it,
you'll start to understand why the labor movement must have secret ballots.

JG
SilentOtto
2008-08-11 08:25:25 UTC
Permalink
On Aug 9, 2:06 pm, "Dennis" <***@never.net> wrote:

Were it not for the exploitation of flaws in current laws regulating
the formation of unions by those with a vested interest in preventing
unionization, this wouldn't even be an issue.

"Card Check" is a response to the inherent unfairness in the current
law, not something thought up by "Union Thugs" to enhance their
ability to "coerce" workers to form a union, as rightards, like
Dennis, would have one believe.

Perhaps it's not a perfect solution, but in that case perhaps
rightards, like Dennis, who oppose the measure should come up with a
plan of their own that eliminates the inherent inequities in the laws
governing the formation of unions, and render the issue moot.

Of course, rightards, like Dennis, aren't really concerned with
"fairness", their agenda is to destroy all unions and this is just one
of the planks in their anti-union platform.

Heh heh...

Rightards...



From:

http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/ARAWReports/FreeandFair%20FINAL.pdf



Competitive Elections: Equal Access to Voters

The first prerequisite of a competitive election is allowing
candidates equal access to the list of
potential voters. As a general rule, voter rolls are in the public
domain and available to any citizen.
Specific procedures for getting copies of voter names and addresses
are set by each state or county, but
it is axiomatic that whatever information is available must be
provided to competing candidates on an
equal basis.30
By comparison, labor law denies workers equal access to voter lists.
When workers become interested
in forming a union in their workplace, neither they nor any union with
which they are affiliated can get
a list of potential voters; nor do employees have the legal right
simply to take home a list of coworkers
for use in union organizing. For pro-union employees to obtain a voter
list, they must first get at least 30
percent of their coworkers to sign cards asking the NLRB to sponsor a
vote on unionization.31 Needless
to say, the fact that employees must contact this 30 percent without
any list to work from is a daunting
prospect. If candidates for federal office were required to produce
signed statements of support from 30
percent of eligible voters simply in order to have an election
scheduled — and to collect these statements
without access to a voter list — it is hard to imagine how any
challenger could prevail. Certainly if a
foreign country operated in this manner, we would not hesitate to
denounce this as a sham electoral
system. But it is exactly such a system that U.S. citizens must endure
in workplaces across the country.
Once there is a showing of 30 percent support, the union is entitled
to a list of employee names and
addresses.32 Under federal law, the right to this list is presented as
a guarantee of unions’ ability to
campaign effectively. As the Board has explained,
As a practical matter, an employer, through his … ability to
communicate with employees
on plant premises, is assured of the continuing opportunity to inform
the entire electorate of
his views with respect to union representation. On the other hand,
without a list of employee
names and addresses, a labor organization, whose organizers normally
have no right of access to
plant premises, has no method by which it can be certain of reaching
all the employees with its
arguments in favor of representation, and, as a result, employees are
often completely unaware of
that point of view.33
What is striking here is not the Board’s decision to grant access to
employee lists, but its assumption
that this is sufficient to lay the groundwork for a fair election.
Thus, the Board’s standard is not that
competing parties must have equal opportunity to address voters, but
something much more minimal:
merely that pro-union employees must have some means of communicating
their message to coworkers.
However, even this goal has proved largely unattainable. To begin
with, the list provided the union
does not include either telephone or email contact information. In
addition, since the law merely requires
employees’ “addresses,” employers often omit details such as apartment
numbers or ZIP codes, further
complicating the work of union organizers.
The absence of phone numbers is particularly damaging in an age when
workers live far apart from
one another and often spend their free time running between kids,
schools, sports, stores, doctors, and
second jobs. The notion that union supporters should simply drive
around, hoping to find workers at
home who would welcome unannounced visitors, is unrealistic. Even
worse, this process is further
restricted by the timetable of NLRB elections. Once employees show 30
percent support for a vote, the
vote should take place within 40 days.34 The employer is not required
to provide a list of eligible voters
until seven days after the union’s showing of support.35 Thus, even
when the system works perfectly,
union activists normally have just over four weeks between first
receiving the voter list and the vote
itself. In this time, union supporters must find a way to reach
perhaps hundreds of coworkers, many of
whom have otherwise received no information about the union drive.36
By contrast, management is free to campaign against the union at any
time and in any part of the
workplace. Indeed, anti-union lawyers specializing in “preventive
labor relations” often recommend
that anti-union communications begin with new employee orientations to
forestall any thought of
organizing.37 Thus, by the time a union first receives the list of
eligible voters, management may have
been plying these same workers with anti-union messages over a period
of years. Again, if we imagine
a congressional election in which one candidate has been running
aggressive attack ads for a period
of years, while the other is prevented from contacting the voters
until four weeks before the election
day, no one would deem this a fair contest. The fact that it ends in a
secret ballot in no way changes the
fundamentally undemocratic nature of such a vote.

Free Speech
The right to free speech stands at the heart of the U.S. system. In
the words of the Supreme Court,
it is “the guardian of our democracy.”38 It goes without saying, of
course, that for free speech to be
meaningful, it must be applied equally to both sides of a debate.
Unfortunately, however, the rules
governing union elections essentially safeguard the free speech rights
of employers while denying
entirely those of employees.
Under federal labor law, management is permitted not only unlimited
reign to voice anti-union
arguments to employees, but also nearly unlimited reign to stifle
employees’ own political speech.
Indeed, one federal commission found that there are upwards of 10,000
cases per year of workers being
punished for engaging in pro-union speech.39 Labor law states that
employees may talk to each other
about the union, or hand out union literature, only when both they and
the person they’re talking to are
on break time and in a break area.40 Outside this narrow window, an
employer may enforce a total ban
on employees talking about the union or distributing union information
anywhere in the workplace,
even if managers themselves are engaged in ongoing anti-union
discussions and distribution of antiunion
literature throughout the workplace.
In political elections, opposing camps as a matter of course are
guaranteed equal speech rights.
Indeed, federal law takes particular care to guarantee that employers
do not create an uneven playing
field within their workplace for political candidates; thus the FEC
bans corporations from inviting one
candidate to address employees without allowing a similar opportunity
for his or her opponent.41 By
contrast, union campaigns are framed by a fundamentally unequal
playing field.
Under law, anti-union managers are free to speak every day — or
multiple times per day — to
every worker. Employers may require individual workers to meet one-on-
one with anyone from the
CEO to their immediate supervisor. In these meetings, the same person
who controls an individual’s
schedule, assigns job duties, approves vacation requests, grants
raises or promotions, and has the power
to terminate employees “at will,” now conveys in the strongest
possible terms the arguments for why
employees should oppose unionization. These meetings are mandatory,
and may be scheduled as
frequently as the company wants, even every day. The only conceivable
way a union might come close
to matching this form of campaigning is by having full-time union
representatives in the workplace who
could speak to employees with the same frequency as supervisors. Yet
under federal labor law, union
organizers have no right to set foot in the workplace.42 As one
management consultant explains,
the employer’s greater opportunity to communicate with its employee,
the virtually complete
access to the minds of voters during working hours, and the control
management can exert
over employees give the employer a considerable advantage over his
union counterparts. The
advantage can legally be utilized to produce a winning vote on
election day.43
In addition to speaking with individual employees in the workplace,
labor law grants employers
the right to require their employees to attend mass anti-union
meetings. These meetings, too, can be
held as often as management chooses, except in the last 24 hours
before a vote.44 The Board has ruled
that employers have “no statutory obligation to accord the employees
the opportunity to speak” at such
meetings.45 Not only is the union not granted equal time, but union
supporters may be banned from
such meetings, or may be permitted to attend on the condition that
they not ask questions or venture
opinions; those who speak up despite this condition can be legally
terminated.46

In explaining the rationale for such “captive audience” meetings, the
Board suggested that “if the
privilege of [employer] free speech is to be given real meaning, it
cannot be qualified by grafting upon it
conditions which are tantamount to negation.”47 The “negation” in this
case would be the invitation for
pro-union employees to speak out in opposition to management’s stated
views. Thus, the very principle
that the Supreme Court and the founders saw as the core of political
democracy — the “uninhibited,
robust and wide-open” debate among voters — is treated by the Board as
an intolerable “negation” of
management rights.
It is unsurprising that forced anti-union meetings are popular among
employers. One study,
surveying over 200 union elections in the late 1980s, found that 67
percent of employers required
attendance at anti-union campaign events.48 Data from the 1990s
suggest that this figure has recently
risen to as high as 92 percent.49
Finally, the impact of denying employees free speech rights has been
even further compounded by
Board rulings protecting employers’ right to issue negative statements
about unionization even if these
turn out to be false. The Board has declared that it will police
campaign propaganda only to the extent
that printed materials must be identified as coming from one side or
the other; beyond this, the Board
does not “probe into the truth or falsity of the parties’ campaign
statements, and … will not set aside
elections on the basis of misleading campaign statements.”50 The
Board’s reasoning is that, as long as
information is clearly identified as coming from one party or the
other, employees are sufficiently savvy
to investigate all claims with appropriate skepticism. Such a standard
may make sense in campaigns for
federal office. In the context created by the founders — an atmosphere
of free speech, where assertions
may be readily challenged, dissected, and met with counter-claims —
such a practice is reasonable. It
has become routine, for instance, that presidential debates are
followed by next-day scorecards reporting
the accuracy of each candidate’s claims. But the Board’s standard has
a wholly different effect in the
context of the workplace, where there is no right of reply and no
public forum in which to challenge such
assertions. As Thomas Jefferson noted, “reason and free inquiry are
the only effectual agents against
error.”51 In the absence of employee free speech rights, the ability
of management to issue misleading
statements without having to confront opposing arguments on an equal
footing undermines the essential
goal of U.S. democracy: creating an electorate that is sufficiently
well informed to choose wisely among
competing camps.
In this sense, union campaigns are conducted under a particularly
counterintuitive logic. Employers,
who are ineligible to vote or stand for election, have almost
unlimited scope for campaign activities,
while the actual employees and “voters” are largely prohibited from
engaging in similar actions.
The Tyranny of Mandatory Campaign Communications
Beyond the quantitative advantage that employers enjoy in the
frequency with which they can
communicate with voters, managers conducting anti-union campaigns also
enjoy a qualitative advantage
that is built into the very nature of their communication. Whereas all
pro-union discussion is voluntary,
anti-union discussions are mandatory. While considerable attention has
been paid to the problem of
mass “captive audience” meetings — where employees are forced to sit
through anti-union presentations
— the fact is that employees are “captives” in all workplace
communication with supervisors. When a
manager walks up to an employee on the job and launches into an anti-
union speech, the employee is
not free to leave, to start another conversation, to talk over their
supervisor, to plug up their ears, or even
to avoid paying attention.52 Once again, if we were told of an
electoral system in which the ruling party
forced voters to attend its campaign events as a condition of
employment — and in which voters would
be laid off if they did not respond respectfully to an ongoing stream
of one-sided jokes, comments, and
speeches — we would assume that this system belonged to some tin-pot
dictator. And again, the fact that
such an election might culminate in a secret ballot would in no way
undo our judgment. To discover that
this regime is, in fact, operating all across our country is
profoundly disturbing to anyone who hoped to
see the norms of U.S. democracy upheld in the workplace.

A Candidate that Cannot Be Voted Out of Office: The Irreducible Power
of Management
Beyond the power to compel voters’ attention, anti-union managers
enjoy a second form of unequal
power that is inherent in the structure of the firm: even if
management “loses” the election, it continues
to control almost everything in the economic lives of its employees.
This fact reinforces the impossibility
of imagining management to be a “candidate” in union elections,
because it is a candidate that can never
be voted out of office. If workers vote to unionize, their union joins
management, but does not replace it,
in governing the workplace. But this fact creates a dramatic imbalance
in the weight voters must accord
to each side’s campaign statements. Both pro- and anti-union
representatives may pressure employees
to side with them. However, if employees vote against unionization,
the union has no power to punish
them for this choice. On the other hand, if employees vote to organize
despite management’s anti-union
campaign, virtually all aspects of their work lives remain under the
control of the management they
have opposed. Statements that convey management’s disapproval of
unionization must lead rational
workers to fear that they will be subject to retribution even if a
union is voted in. By comparison, we
would never permit a system where the election for president occurred
midway through the incumbent’s
term, with the incumbent administration guaranteed another two years
in power even if it lost. Under
such conditions, governors, mayors, lobbyists, and federal contractors
would be understandably wary
of campaigning against the incumbent; even if their candidate won,
they would look forward to two
years of disfavor from those who controlled the federal budget.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of
pressure that every employee must confront in union campaigns.
Thus federal labor law grants employers a series of extremely powerful
one-sided privileges: the
use of supervisors to carry a partisan message to their subordinates;
unlimited anti-union campaigning
matched by a near-total ban on pro-union campaigning; and a nearly
unlimited right to mandatory antiunion
meetings with absolutely no corresponding pro-union response. Each of
these is an activity that
not only would be banned if transposed onto an analogous political
election, but is actually prohibited
employer behavior in political campaigns. Yet the protections we take
for granted in political campaigns
are absent in the workplace.

Equal Access to the Media
As with rights to free speech, labor law also provides management with
highly unequal access to the
media. Here too, NLRB practice departs radically from the norms of
U.S. democracy.
In elections for public office, our system aims at enabling both
parties’ messages to reach the
broadest possible audience. While media outlets are under no
obligation to provide coverage to any
candidate, federal law seeks to guarantee that whatever airtime is
available is offered to both parties on
an equal opportunity basis. In part, Congress has sought to make it
affordable for even modestly funded
candidates to reach as broad a public as possible. In drafting the
1971 Federal Elections Commission Act
(FECA), the Senate declared that it aimed “to give candidates for
public office greater access to the media
so that they may better explain their stand on the issues, and thereby
more fully and completely inform
the voters.”53 Thus, federal statute mandates that in the two months
leading up to a general election,
broadcast television and radio stations must sell advertising time to
political candidates at the lowest rate
they charge to any other customer. Furthermore, these outlets are
banned from charging a higher rate to
one candidate than to another.54
As communications media have evolved over the past century, Congress
has acted repeatedly to
ensure that the new technology is not used to unfair advantage. This
principle may be most clearly
evident in the “Equal Time Rule” governing broadcast media. In brief,
this rule mandates that if any
station provides airtime other than normal news coverage for one
candidate, it must provide equal time
for his or her opponent.55 The rule — first established in 1927 in
response to radio, then amended after
the development of television — reflects a keen understanding of the
importance of mass media in
political campaigns.56 From the beginning, lawmakers focused on
broadcast media as posing a unique
challenge to politics. For both lawmakers and the courts, broadcast
media are unique in two ways. First,
because the airwaves are physically finite, candidates depend on a
limited number of outlets for public
exposure. In theory, there could be an infinite number of newspapers,
limited only by the ability to
remain financially solvent; the same is not true of broadcast media.
To guarantee that any one candidate
is not shut out of broadcast access, federal regulation was deemed
necessary.57 Beyond their technological
limits, broadcast media were also perceived as uniquely influential.
In formulating the original
legislation, one congressional supporter argued that:
[radio broadcasters] can mold and crystallize sentiment as no agency
in the past has been able to
do. If the strong arm of the law does not prevent monopoly ownership
and make discrimination
by such stations illegal, American thought and American politics will
be largely at the mercy of
those who operate these stations.58
Similarly, the advent of television prompted Congress to add
regulations governing what was fast
becoming “the most important medium of political information.”59
Both principles undergirding the Equal Time Rule apply with equal
logic to union elections. While
communication in the workplace is not the sole medium for talking with
workers about unionization,
it is a finite resource, and it is by far the most influential
possible forum for campaigning. Yet where
federal law insists that both sides of a political campaign have equal
access to mass media, labor law is
content to allow one party to exercise near-monopoly control over
workplace media.60 Indeed, in union
election campaigns, communication within the workplace operates much
like state-controlled media in a
totalitarian nation. Employers may post anti-union information on
bulletin boards, in cafeterias and in
work areas, while banning similar postings by pro-union employees.
Even a company that has a general
“No Solicitation” rule in the workplace is permitted to violate its
own rule by distributing anti-union

literature while enforcing the rule against pro-union handouts.61
“Management prerogative,” the Board
has explained, “certainly extends far enough so as to permit an
employer to make rules that do not bind
himself.”62
Competing Logics: Equal Access for Citizens, Minimum Access for
Workers
Underlying the specific differences between the laws governing
political elections and those for
union formation, there is a deeper contrast in the fundamental
principle that undergirds each body of
law. The standard for U.S. elections is that candidates should each be
enabled to “fully and completely
inform the voters” of their positions.63 Thus, the Equal Time Rule
aims to “give the public the advantage
of a full, complete, and exhaustive discussion, on a fair opportunity
basis.”64 By contrast, labor law
proceeds on the assumption that as long as pro-union employees are not
completely prohibited from
communicating their message to potential voters, the process is fair.
The courts have asserted, for
instance, that as long as the union has access to some avenue of
communication with workers, it need not
have access to the workplace.65 Labor law thus effectively functions
on a “minimum access” standard.
Were this logic extended to federal elections, the law might hold that
there is no problem with one
candidate monopolizing the airwaves as long as his or her opponent is
at least free to hand out leaflets at
shopping malls.66
Campaigns for public office are never completely evenly matched, and
the candidate with the larger
war chest often uses it to buy superior airtime. However, both parties
have access to all the same media.
By contrast, the inequality built into union elections is not one of
resources, but one of rights. No matter
how much money a union may have, pro-union workers may be denied the
right to post notices, make
announcements, or circulate newsletters as a matter of company policy.
As the Supreme Court has
explained, labor law:
does not command that labor organizations …. be protected in the use
of every possible means
of reaching the minds of individual workers, nor that they are
entitled to use a medium of
communication simply because the employer is using it.67
Yet in political elections, federal law does command that such a
standard be upheld; any medium
that is made available to one candidate must be available to the
other. That such a mundane and obvious
principle of electoral democracy is so foreign to the framework of
union elections points again to the
discrepancy between the norms that govern the country and those that
rule the workplace.

Leveling the Playing Field by Controlling Campaign Finance
Traditionally, one of the most important means of creating a level
playing field among competing
candidates is through regulation of campaign financing. While the law
does not mandate that
campaigns operate with the same amount of money, it does seek to
establish a rough balance between
them. One of the core notions of democracy is that elections are
determined by the popular judgment of
the merits and faults of each candidate. If the candidates’ resources
are so unequal that one can saturate
the voters with his message while the other is barely heard, this
defeats the purpose of democracy since
citizens cannot make a truly informed choice. Following the
introduction of television advertising in the
1960s, legislators became concerned that “expenditures have been
escalating so as to threaten to make
money the principal determinant of election.”68 In order to “protect
the integrity of the federal election
process,” the 1971 FECA established the first limits on campaign
spending.69 The previous absence of
limits, House members explained, “makes the law seriously defective
because [it] … tends to give a
candidate with large financial resources an undue advantage over one
whose resources are limited,”
threatening to create a political system “dominated by special
interests and unresponsive to the public
will.”70
Thus, the fundamental goal of federal campaign law is to maintain a
balanced playing field between
the candidates by controlling the size of campaign budgets.71 The
establishment of public matching
funds within the presidential election context is intended
specifically to induce candidates to accept
such limits.72 Generally, this incentive has been sufficient to
guarantee that the resources of opposing
candidates, while certainly not equal, are roughly in the same
ballpark. Recently, however, a number of
independently wealthy candidates have chosen to eschew matching funds
in order to make use of their
own superior resources. To solve this problem, Congress in 2002 passed
a “Millionaire’s Amendment” to
the FECA.73 Under this statute, candidates for federal office who face
wealthy, self-funded opponents are
permitted to increase both donations and expenditures beyond the
normal limits.74 Thus, Congress has
acted repeatedly, if imperfectly, to maintain the rough balance of
resources needed to ensure competitive
elections.
When measured against the norms of political elections, NLRB
procedures fall far short. In
contrast to the FEC, there are absolutely no limits or penalties, and
very limited reporting requirements,
governing the amount of money that parties may spend on union
campaigns.75 Moreover, the Board has
completely ignored the principle of fair competition that is so
central to U.S. democracy. Aggressively
anti-union employers frequently make use of outside consultants, on-
the-clock meetings, legal strategies,
internal communications, the use of company property and equipment to
support these efforts,
and, above all, the paid time of supervisors who function as anti-
union campaign staff. All of these
expenditures would be both reported and strictly limited under the
FEC. And taken together, they add
up to a level of resources that few unions can ever hope to match. The
fact that none of this is reported
or limited in any way allows employers to exploit their superior
financial resources in order to run
campaigns on a fundamentally unequal footing.

Guaranteeing Voters Protection from Economic Coercion
It is, of course, axiomatic that U.S. citizens cannot be threatened,
coerced, intimidated, or bribed into
voting for one party or another. Beyond the fact that no individual is
permitted to bribe another, the law
is particularly concerned to prohibit the potential economic coercion
of employers over their employees.
A concern about employer-employee relations dates back to the Founding
Fathers. Thomas Jefferson
invoked “yeoman farmers” as the ideal democratic citizens because they
were economically independent;
employees, by contrast, were dependent on the will of others and,
therefore, vulnerable to pressure and
manipulation. While exceptional individuals may resist such pressures,
as Alexander Hamilton noted,
“in the main it will be found that a power over a man’s support is a
power over his will.”76 For this
reason, electoral law draws a wide arc designed to protect the
economically vulnerable from even vague
or implicit threats designed to influence voting behavior.
Federal law makes it illegal even to indirectly promise someone a job
in return for political
support, or to pledge support for someone’s future appointment to a
government post, in exchange for
political support.77 The law specifically bans managers in federal
agencies from exercising any form
of intimidation or coercion over their employees in order to control
their political behavior; those who
violate this statute are subject to imprisonment for up to three years.
78 So too, the Hatch Act prohibiting
federal employees from participating in political campaigns is partly
designed to protect such employees
from the demands of elected officials who may control their salaries.
79 Finally, elected officials are
banned from using any federally funded economic benefit — for
instance, cash welfare, food stamps, or
housing assistance — to influence voters.80 It is noteworthy that this
law specifically focuses on benefits
for the poor. These are the voters whose economic vulnerability makes
them most susceptible to political
intimidation. Thus, while the law is clearly aimed at preventing
federal corruption, it also reflects a keen
insight into how easily the economically dependent may be manipulated.
81
This insight is also embodied in the regulations governing
solicitation for PACs. While corporations
are free to operate PACs, they are severely restricted in the extent
to which they may call on employees
to support these efforts. Corporate PACs may solicit contributions
from shareholders and managerial
employees at any time. However, if they wish to solicit non-
supervisory employees, they may do so only
twice a year, and then only in written letters mailed to employees’
homes.82 If rank and file employees
are solicited for a corporate PAC, the mailing must include something
akin to a political “Miranda
warning,” specifically stating that they need not contribute, and that
there will be no consequence for
not participating.83 Moreover, corporate PACs are required to
establish accounting systems that make
it impossible for the employer to know whether any individual employee
has made a contribution.84
Finally, if a unionized company solicits its employees for a corporate
PAC, it must make its fundraising
methods (including all mailing lists) available for the union to use
in its own PAC solicitations.85 This
law is based on the understanding that workers are often extremely
sensitive to the need to make a good
impression on their boss. So many rewards and punishments depend on
the personal will of supervisors
— hiring and firing, increased or decreased hours, convenient or
inconvenient days off, flexibility to care
for sick children, and myriad other terms of employment — that many
employees shy away from any
behavior that might be displeasing to those in charge. Thus federal
law in this area provides multiple
layers of protection to insulate workers from any possible pressure to
mold their political behavior to suit
the boss’ desires.
State laws similarly recognize the particular importance of
safeguarding employees from the undue
influence of those who control their economic lives. States have
commonly adopted statutes such as
Michigan’s, making it a misdemeanor (punishable by fine and
imprisonment) to threaten an employee

with termination on the basis of supporting one candidate or another.
86 Moreover, state laws generally
regulate indirect as well as direct threats. Many states, for
instance, ban employers from including any
form of political advertisement or advocacy in employees’ pay
envelopes.87
Under electoral law, things that are perfectly legal for unrelated
individuals to say to each other
become illegal when conveyed by an employer to his or her employees.
For instance, a homeowner can
declare that he or she doesn’t want any Republicans in the house, but
in most states, an employer cannot
make a similar declaration about his or her workplace. This reflects
legislators’ recognition that the same
words coming from one’s employer carry an additional weight — and an
implied threat of retaliation —
which is not present in the speech of random individuals or neighbors.
So too do both federal and state
statutes recognize the potentially coercive nature of employer-
employee communications even when they
do not include an explicit threat. The Hatch Act, for instance, does
not state that federal employees can
work on their bosses’ campaigns unless the boss explicitly makes the
work a condition of employment.
Coercion does not need to be spelled out to be understood.
By contrast, the Board appears blind to the insight that animated the
founders.88 Under labor law,
while explicit threats or bribes are illegal, anything that falls
short of an explicitly articulated threat is
permitted.89 For instance, employers may not tell workers that “if you
wear a union button, you’ll never
get a promotion,” but they are perfectly free to state that “a union
is a declaration of disloyalty to me
personally, and an affront to everything this company stands for.” To
any reasonable human being, there
is little material difference between these two statements. Yet under
labor law, the second is perfectly
legal.
This same implausible distinction applies to threats aimed at the
workforce as a whole. Employers
may not threaten to close up shop in retaliation for a pro-union vote.
But they are free to “predict” that
unionization will lead to a shutdown. Specifically, an employer is
permitted to tell “what he reasonably
believes will be the likely economic consequences of unionization that
are outside his control,” but not
to issue “threats of economic reprisal to be taken solely on his own
volition.”90 While this distinction
may be theoretically intelligible, it is virtually meaningless in
practice. Indeed, anti-union lawyers have
become adept at counseling their clients on how to intimidate
employees effectively while obeying the
letter of the law. One such text, for example, advises that:
Management may … say that it could not state with ‘certainty,’ but
would predict that if
the union wins the election and the firm has to operate under a union
contract that adds
considerably (not minimally) to costs, then, ‘as a good businessman,’
the employer would have to
carefully consider the necessity of moving operations out of the
country, so that costs would be
reduced, and the product could be sold at a profit.91
It may be unsurprising, then, that according to one survey, while only
one percent of companies
actually close up shop after their employees vote to unionize, 71
percent of manufacturing employers
threaten to close in the course of a union election campaign.92 The
issue of “predicted” versus
“threatened” layoffs provides one of the clearest contrasts between
electoral and labor law. Neither
federal nor state statutes governing election to public office
recognize such a distinction. Instead,
most state laws are premised on a “reasonable person” logic. Employers
are prohibited from making
statements that would serve to influence a reasonable person’s voting
behavior, even if they contain no
explicit threat. In at least a dozen states, predictions of layoffs in
the context of an election are specifically
prohibited by law. Arizona, for instance, mandates that within 90 days
of an election, an employer may
not:
put up or otherwise exhibit in any place where his employees are
working or are present in the
course of employment a handbill, notice or placard containing a
threat, notice or information that
if any particular ticket or candidate is elected or defeated work in
his place or establishment will
cease in whole or in part, or his establishment will be closed, or the
wages of his workmen will
be reduced, or other threats, express or implied, intended or
calculated to influence the political
opinions or actions of his employees.93

Thus, what is expressly prohibited in political elections is
explicitly condoned in union elections.
Indeed, under current labor law, it is hard to determine what employer
behavior would not be
permitted in the course of a union election, short of a clumsy and
explicit threat. Employers are free,
for instance, to report that major customers will stop buying from
them in the event of unionization,94
or to inform employees that personal relationships in the company will
suffer if a union is voted in.95
Likewise, an employer who threatened to eliminate “special personal
arrangement[s]” such as “time off
when your children [are] sick, weddings, for haircuts, a school prom,
emergencies at home, and to catch
up on studies” was deemed within his legal rights.96 Even an employer
who told workers that “I hope
you guys are ready to pack up and move to Mexico” was found to have
acted legally.97 An employer who
exhibited a series of posters depicting factories that were closed as
a result of unionization was thought to
have approached the “brink” of acceptable behavior, but was ultimately
judged to have engaged merely
in persuasive, not coercive, communication.98
The impact of this sort of officially “non-coercive” speech is not
lost on employees. One survey
found that 70 percent of U.S. workers believed that “corporations
sometimes harass, intimidate, or fire
employees who openly speak up for a union.”99 Another poll reported
that 79 percent of workers thought
it was either “somewhat” or “very” likely that employees “will get
fired if they try to organize a union.”100
If these are the assumptions that frame employees’ thinking about
unionization even before a union
drive begins, it is unsurprising that they would be extremely
sensitive to the anti-union statements of
their supervisors. As labor attorney Kate Andrias notes, “It is only
logical that a worker who already
believes that pro-union speech leads to termination, and who then
hears carefully phrased predictions
from her employer, would suppress her pro-union speech.”101
The failure of labor law to protect workers from what any reasonable
person would interpret as
economic threats is particularly disturbing given that the need for
such protection is even greater in
union campaigns than in those for public office. In the context of
congressional elections, for instance,
the behavior of individual employees is much less consequential — and
much less noticed — than
in union elections. In most federal campaigns, the outcome only
marginally impacts any individual
employer. Further, the result is determined by several hundred
thousand voters, among whom any
single employee counts for little. Thus, there is little reason for an
employer to police or punish the
political behavior of subordinates. All of this is reversed in union
campaigns. The outcome matters
greatly to management, and because employees all look to see who among
their coworkers has taken
a stance for or against unionization, the behavior of individual
employees may matter greatly. As a
result, managers have much greater incentive to coerce or threaten
employees into abandoning the union
effort. Thus, in exactly the setting where protection against economic
coercion is most needed, the law is
weakest.
The range of fears that workers may experience during a union election
does not necessarily
prevent them from voting for a union in the privacy of the polling
station. But it does inhibit them
from participating in all of the pre-election-day activities that make
up a political campaign. Even if
threatened workers are not afraid to vote their conscience, they will
be understandably wary of wearing
buttons, signing petitions, going to rallies, handing out leaflets, or
displaying bumper stickers. Again, if
we imagine a country in which the ruling party is free to engage in
all the public hoopla of campaigns,
while its opponents put their livelihood at risk by doing likewise, no
American could think this counted
as “democracy.”

Guaranteeing Voters Protection from Coercion at the Polls
When workers decide to form a union, they are generally required to
vote at work, where they may
be easily observed by supervisors.102 Placing the voting booths in a
location controlled by management
creates myriad opportunities for subtle coercion. While the ballot
itself remains secret, management
may call individual workers to the polls on a schedule of its
choosing, making it easy to monitor voting
activity.103 Employees who show up at the polls together with known
union supporters, or who are
seen conversing with pro-union employees, may understandably fear that
they have been marked for
retribution, even though their ballot per se remains secret.
It is the concern to avoid situations such as this that has driven
election officials to mandate that
polling places for political elections be located in neutral spaces.
While the siting of polling places is
local rather than federal law, the FEC advises local officials that
the importance of “impartiality at the
voting booths” creates a “strong public policy reason” to guarantee
that polling places are situated in
nonpartisan locations.104 In this way, not only is the ballot itself
secret, but the choice of whether or
not to vote, or who to vote with, cannot be a cause for fear of
retribution. In political elections, voting
cannot take place at an office owned by one of the campaigns, or even
by a relative of a candidate. Nor
would employees be required to vote at their workplace if the employer
in question had taken a very
active and public role in support of a particular candidate. Thus, for
example, Texas’ code mandates
that polling places be located in a “public building,” and
specifically prohibits polling places located at
the residence of a candidate or party official.105 Indeed, that state
is so intent on guaranteeing impartial
voting locations that, in the event that no public building is
available for use as a polling place, county
commissioners are authorized to purchase a new building for that
purpose.106
Thus, both federal and state officials embrace a higher standard for
voting procedures than
is available to U.S. workers seeking to create a union. The practice
that is nearly universal in U.S.
workplaces — requiring employees to vote in their places of work,
easily monitored by their managers
and supervisors even when these individuals have engaged in ardent
campaigning against unionization
— is prohibited in political elections as a matter of course.

Timely Implementation of the Voters’ Will
As described earlier, one of the cornerstones of U.S. democracy is
that elections must be held on a
regular and timely basis. If union elections were run in keeping with
these principles, the vote would be
held within a fixed period of time. This would guarantee that the
process was responsive to the will of
the voters, and would prevent the incumbent administration (here, the
management) from manipulating
the timing, and thus potentially the outcome, of the election.
Instead, labor law provides none of these
protections. When workers petition for a vote on unionization, the
Board is required to hold a hearing
determining exactly which employees should be included in the union,
and the employer is a fully
recognized participant in this hearing. Thus, employers are provided
an opportunity to delay the
election, using this time to campaign more aggressively against
unionization. “As a practical matter,”
one anti-union consultant explains, “the union controls the initiation
of the organizing drive … but the
company controls the end. This is done by delaying the election.”107
In many cases, employers’ other
advantages over pro-union workers are sufficient to deter unionization
even within the normal time
period. However, if employers deem it to their advantage to delay the
election, the Board generally has
no ability to force a timely election and no choice but to permit
delays. And indeed, where employers
choose this strategy, the evidence suggests a direct correlation
between election delays and the
proportion of employees voting against unionization.108
Even more disturbing is the incidence of delay in certifying the
outcome of an election once it is
held. In political elections, the law requires that procedural
challenges be resolved in time for a winner
to take office on a timely basis. While laws vary from state to state,
a common principle is that embodied
in Texas statute, which mandates that even in the case of an election
whose outcome is contested, the
apparent winner must take office pending the outcome of an
investigation.109 This principle was affirmed
in litigation following a particularly unusual election for Justice of
the Peace. The election in question
was marred by irregularities, including eligible voters having been
prevented from voting due to errors
by election officials. The candidate who lost the election filed a
challenge immediately following the
vote, and the challenge was upheld by a state judge. Nevertheless, the
candidate who won the election
was sworn in on schedule and took office pending the outcome of the
investigation. Ultimately, the
judge ordered the election to be rerun. Nonetheless, the candidate who
won the first round of voting
was allowed to hold office until the new election was run, and acted
with full authority in that position
pending the new vote.110
If this principle were followed in union elections, workers who voted
to organize would have
their union immediately recognized by their employer, who would
immediately commence good
faith bargaining. In elections where employers file procedural
objections, these challenges would
be thoroughly investigated. If necessary, a new election would be
ordered. While the challenge was
being adjudicated, however, the employees would have a union with full
legal authority to represent
themselves.
Instead, when the outcome of a union election is challenged by an
employer, the union is barred from
taking office for as long as it takes to resolve the complaints. Since
employers may pursue an appeal
through five levels of adjudication — the regional NLRB office, an
administrative law judge, the full
NLRB in Washington, DC, federal district court, and finally the U.S.
Supreme Court — appeals may take
many years. During all this time, the workplace is governed as if
employees voted against unionization,
no matter what the polls may have shown.

Under these conditions, it is understandable that anti-union employers
have an incentive to pursue
prolonged appeals, since the appeal itself will forestall
unionization, and in the meantime many union
supporters will get despondent or move, leaving a weakened workers’
organization to pick up the pieces
if it is ever recognized. But this process marks a dramatic departure
from the norms that define U.S.
democracy. It is inconceivable that we would allow a political
election — whether for President of the
United States or a local Justice of the Peace — to be upheld in this
fashion. Yet these are the conditions
that frame workers’ efforts to represent themselves in collective
bargaining.

Enforcement and Penalties
The final point of comparison between political and union elections is
the manner in which each
system enforces the rights and standards it has established. In
electoral politics, the law provides a
combination of fines and imprisonment for those who violate the norms
of democratic process. Under
federal election law, for instance, a radio or television station that
refuses a candidate airtime may have its
broadcast license revoked.111 Similarly, violation of federal campaign
laws is punished by a combination
of financial penalties and imprisonment, with the penalty for illegal
donations reaching up to ten
times the amount contributed.112 The IRS code additionally stipulates
that candidates that “knowingly
and willfully” exceed allowed expenditure limits are subject to a
$5,000 fine and one year in prison.
Those who “knowingly and willfully” make false or misleading
statements to the FEC, with the goal of
covering up illegal contributions or expenditures, are subject to a
$10,000 fine and five years in prison.113
Nor are such penalties restricted to violations of campaign finances.
A federal employee who “uses
his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or
affecting, the … election of any candidate for
[federal] office” is subject to both fines and imprisonment.114 Anyone
who offers an economic incentive
for someone else to vote, to avoid voting, or to support a particular
candidate is subject to fines and up
to two years in prison.115 Finally, any individual who lies, conceals,
or covers up information regarding
attempts to intimidate voters is subject to fines and up to five years
imprisonment.116
All of this is in striking contrast to union elections, where even
employers who knowingly, willfully,
repeatedly, and explicitly threaten employees, bribe employees, fund
anti-union campaigns, destroy
union literature, fire union supporters and lie to federal officials
in an effort to cover up these deeds
— even employers who commit all these acts in a single campaign and
are convicted of having done so in
federal court — can never be fined a single cent, have any license or
other commercial privilege revoked,
or serve a day in prison.
Compared with the enforcement mechanisms for electoral law, the
process of enforcing labor law is
complex, delay-ridden, and largely toothless. In the event that an
employer illegally coerces employees
in an election campaign, the employee must file a complaint with the
local office of the Board. This
office investigates the charge and, if it believes it to be
meritorious, may issue a formal complaint. The
complaint is heard by an administrative law judge. However, the
judge’s ruling here is not binding.
Either party may file an appeal to this ruling, which will be heard by
the Board itself. Again, Board
decisions themselves are not self-enforcing; if an employer refuses to
obey a Board ruling, the Board
must go into federal court to seek enforcement. In 2003, the median
wait for an unfair labor practice case
pending a Board ruling was nearly three years from the filing of the
charge;117 employers who choose to
appeal the Board’s ruling to the federal courts could add years of
delay to this process.
Furthermore, throughout this process, employees have no private right
of action in seeking to
redress illegal employer activity. If employees believe that their
employer illegally sabotaged a union
election campaign, they have no standing to bring this charge in open
court. Instead, they must file
a complaint with the Board, which makes an unreviewable decision on
whether to take the case.118 If
political elections were run this way, it would mean that neither Al
Gore nor George W. Bush would have
had access to the courts in their battle over the results of the 2000
election. Instead, each would have
had to file a complaint with the FEC; if the FEC chose not to pursue
their complaint, the case would be
dead, with no alternative possibility of redress or appeal. Finally,
in the event that the NLRB decides to
proceed with a case, the Board takes over “ownership” of the
complaint. Thus, Board agents may choose
to drop a case at any time, or to settle on unfavorable terms, even
over the opposition of the original
plaintiffs.

Beyond the delays and frustrations built into the prosecution of labor
law violators, there are
virtually no penalties for those ultimately found guilty. Employees
who are fired for advocating
unionization, for instance, bear the burden of proving that their
termination was due to this activity.119 If,
after years of proceedings, an employer is found guilty of having
illegally terminated union supporters,
the maximum possible penalty is that the employer may be required to
hire the worker back, and to
provide backpay for the period the person was laid off, minus whatever
money the person earned at another
job in the meantime.120 Since most individuals find another job, the
total back payment may be quite small.
If earnings in the replacement job equaled those of the former
position, the employer may not owe any
backpay whatsoever. It should be noted that the Board considers
illegally fired employees to have an
affirmative burden to seek work proactively; a fired worker who does
not look for another job after being
illegally laid off may find his or her backpay cut as a result, even
after winning the case.121
It is unsurprising that this type of penalty is not an effective
deterrent against illegal behavior.
Rational employers might well decide that the modest penalty for
firing a few union supporters was
worth the benefit of scaring hundreds more into abandoning the cause
of unionization. Nevertheless,
even repeat offenders of labor law can never be subject to punitive
fines of any amount by the Board.122
It is telling that even other areas of employment law provide stiffer
penalties for illegal employer
activities. For instance, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with
Disabilities Act, and the Age
Discrimination Employment Act all provide for attorneys’ fees and
punitive damages as a remedy for
employer violations. Indeed, even administrative laws such as the
Occupational Safety and Health Act
or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, provide punitive fines
or allow for damages through
private litigation. But in the most critical arena of workplace
regulation, the law is virtually toothless.123
In the case of willful and egregious offenders, the Board has the
power to issue an order compelling
an employer to recognize a union and commence negotiations. However,
the Board is extremely
reluctant to use this power. Recently, the Board overturned just such
an order that was issued by an
administrative law judge. In the case in question, three-fourths of
the engineering employees in South
Florida’s Hialeah Hospital signed cards indicating their support for
unionization. Shortly thereafter, the
hospital secretly videotaped and then fired a pro-union employee,
threatened reprisals if workers voted
to organize, and promised to promote an employee if he convinced
others to vote against unionization.
After these actions, a majority of employees ultimately voted against
unionization. The Board found the
employer guilty of multiple violations of the law but insisted that
the only appropriate remedy was to
rerun the election.124
Yet since there is no possibility of punitive damages under the NLRA,
even when a bargaining order
is imposed, an aggressively anti-union employer ultimately faces
almost no sanction for flouting the law.
When a union has been certified after winning an election, employers
are legally required to negotiate
a contract in good faith. However, if an employer refuses to bargain
in good faith, the legal remedy is
simply to order the employer, once again, to negotiate in good faith.
125 One of the most extreme such
examples is the case of the Sparks Nugget casino. In 1977, the Board
found that the Sparks Nugget had
been guilty of bargaining in bad faith for the three previous years,
and instructed the employer to return
to the negotiating table in good faith. In 1980, the Court of Appeals
enforced the Board’s order, but the
employer continued in its refusal to negotiate. In 1984, an
administrative law judge once again found
the employer was illegally bargaining in bad faith. In 1990, the Board
upheld this decision, ordering the
employer back to the table. Again, the employer appealed to the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals, and in
1992, more than 17 years after the employer began disregarding the
law, the court enforced another Board
order requiring the company to return to the negotiating table.126
Thus, even those protections that exist on the books under labor law
become illusory when one seeks
to enforce them. But any electoral system that lacks effective
enforcement cannot possibly safeguard the
democratic rights of its participants.

How America Judges the World: Higher Standards Abroad than
at Home?
One way to illuminate U.S. standards of what constitutes “free and
fair” elections is to examine the
criteria that our government uses to evaluate the legitimacy of other
countries’ elections.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been charged by
Congress with the mandate
to “strengthen democratic electoral processes abroad.”127 According to
the NED, for elections to be
legitimate they must be not only “free,” but also “competitive.”128 In
2002, the State Department invoked
this principle in criticizing the government of Ukraine for failing to
“ensure a level playing field for all
political parties” in its national elections.129
Among the criticisms leveled at Ukraine were that employees of state-
owned enterprises were
pressured to support the ruling party; mineworkers were pressured to
withdraw from a trade union
supportive of the opposition; faculty and students were instructed by
their university rector to vote
for specific candidates; ruling party candidates took advantage of
public offices for meeting spaces
while denying suitable meeting space to the opposition; and the
governing party enjoyed “uncritical
coverage from regional and local media outlets” while the opposition
was faced with restricted access
to billboards, local media, and state-funded television.130 If
transposed onto the grounds of a U.S.
workplace, everything that occurred in this flawed election in Ukraine
would be legal. Employers are
perfectly free to use workplace space for partisan meetings while
denying use of that space to union
supporters, to monopolize communications media within the workplace,
to instruct employees on how to
vot,; and to pressure employees (in every way short of an explicit
threat) to vote against unionization. It
is particularly telling that the State Department never raised any
doubt that the Ukrainian election was
conducted by secret ballot. Such an election may be “free” in the
sense that it ends in a secret ballot, but
it is neither “fair” nor “competitive.”
Similarly, in 2003 the State Department issued a statement criticizing
the Republic of Armenia for
an “election process [that] fell short of international standards.”131
The United States ambassador to the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe specifically cited
“violations by state-run television
of the principle of equal access for all candidates.”132 In addition,
election monitors reported allegations
that “public sector employees, factory workers, teachers, students and
others were instructed to attend
the incumbent’s rallies.”133 Again, the same things that disqualify an
election abroad — including forcing
employees to attend partisan meetings or rallies — are perfectly legal
in every private sector workplace
across the United States.
In the leadup to 2004 elections in Ukraine, the House and Senate
passed concurrent resolutions
calling for electoral reforms in that country. Apart from the specific
criticisms of Ukraine, the resolution
outlines some of the core principles defining democratic elections:
a genuinely free and fair election requires a period of political
campaigning conducted in an
environment in which … the candidates [may present] their views and
qualifications to the
citizenry, including … enjoying unimpeded access to television, radio,
print, and Internet media
on a non-discriminatory basis.134
In conclusion, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell insisted that “the
Ukrainian authorities … need to
ensure an election process that enables all of the candidates to
compete on a level playing field.”135 We
can only hope that this same standard of democracy may one day be
applied in the U.S. workplace.

Conclusion
At every step of the way, from the beginning to the end of a union
election, NLRB procedures
fail to live up to the standards of U.S. democracy. Apart from the use
of secret ballots, there is not
a single aspect of the NLRB process that does not violate the norms we
hold sacred for political
elections. The unequal access to voter lists; the absence of financial
controls; monopoly control of both
media and campaigning within the workplace; the use of economic power
to force participation in
political meetings; the tolerance of thinly disguised threats; the
location of voting booths on partisan
grounds; open-ended delays in implementing the results of an election;
and the absence of meaningful
enforcement measures — every one of these constitutes a profound
departure from the norms that have
governed U.S. democracy since its inception.
While the nation’s elected officials include many talented and
tireless campaigners, it is hard to
imagine anyone — Republican or Democrat — who could win election under
the conditions that workers
must use to form unions. Indeed, almost any single one of the problems
listed above would be enough
to sink all but a handful of campaigns. If congressional elections
were run just as they are now, except
that a challenger was required to show signed statements of support
from 30 percent of registered voters
before the district would schedule an election, this by itself would
make elections impossible in most of
the country. Similarly, if the only change were that one candidate had
access to voter lists and the other
did not, this by itself would make victory virtually unattainable for
the disadvantaged candidate. It is
easy to imagine a similar result for each of these failures of the
NLRB system: if the only problem was
that one candidate had monopoly control over the media; if it was just
that one could talk to voters every
day at work while the other had to visit them at night in their homes;
if it was only that local businesses
threatened to lay off employees if a certain candidate was elected; or
only that one candidate had the
power to compel all voters to attend one-sided campaign rallies — any
single one of these would result
in certain defeat for the vast majority of candidates.
Intuitively, one would think that if there were any difference between
union and political elections,
it would be that union elections provided even greater protections to
participants, out of recognition of
their greater vulnerability. In political elections, the actions of
either employer or employee are part of a
much larger electorate and, therefore, contribute in a much more
indirect way to the election’s outcome.
In addition, since most political campaigning — as well as the final
act of voting itself — takes place
outside the workplace, there is much less opportunity for employer
surveillance of, knowledge of, and
influence over employees’ political behavior. In union elections, all
of this is reversed; the campaign
primarily takes place in the workplace, where employers know who is
talking pro-union, who is wearing
what kind of button, who has signed what petition, and who shows up to
vote (and in whose company)
on the election day. Given the far greater opportunity for undue
influence in the workplace, one might
suppose that protections against voter coercion would be more
stringent in union elections than in
political elections. Just the opposite is true.
The analysis above points to an inescapable conclusion. The high hopes
and bold words that
accompanied the passage of the Wagner Act have not been realized. It
is possible for scholars, lobbyists,
and lawmakers to hold widely divergent beliefs regarding how unions
should be formed. But it is no
longer possible to believe that the current system mirrors the
procedures we use to elect public officials.
Indeed, from the point of view of the framers of the Constitution, of
U.S. jurisprudence, and of state
and federal statute, the current NLRB system is profoundly broken —
and profoundly undemocratic.
Whatever path labor law reform may take, it must begin with this
understanding.
Dennis
2008-08-11 14:20:25 UTC
Permalink
"SilentOtto" <***@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:41e74cf2-f390-4980-9a4b-***@k30g2000hse.googlegroups.com...
On Aug 9, 2:06 pm, "Dennis" <***@never.net> wrote:

Were it not for the exploitation of flaws in current laws regulating
the formation of unions by those with a vested interest in preventing
unionization, this wouldn't even be an issue.

"Card Check" is a response to the inherent unfairness in the current
law, not something thought up by "Union Thugs" to enhance their
ability to "coerce" workers to form a union, as rightards, like
Dennis, would have one believe.

Perhaps it's not a perfect solution, but in that case perhaps
rightards, like Dennis, who oppose the measure should come up with a
plan of their own that eliminates the inherent inequities in the laws
governing the formation of unions, and render the issue moot.

Of course, rightards, like Dennis, aren't really concerned with
"fairness", their agenda is to destroy all unions and this is just one
of the planks in their anti-union platform.
*************
Ooohhhh...letting workers "vote in secret"....ooohhhh...that's scary.

Dionysus

Heh heh...

Rightards...



From:

http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/ARAWReports/FreeandFair%20FINAL.pdf



Competitive Elections: Equal Access to Voters

The first prerequisite of a competitive election is allowing
candidates equal access to the list of
potential voters. As a general rule, voter rolls are in the public
domain and available to any citizen.
Specific procedures for getting copies of voter names and addresses
are set by each state or county, but
it is axiomatic that whatever information is available must be
provided to competing candidates on an
equal basis.30
By comparison, labor law denies workers equal access to voter lists.
When workers become interested
in forming a union in their workplace, neither they nor any union with
which they are affiliated can get
a list of potential voters; nor do employees have the legal right
simply to take home a list of coworkers
for use in union organizing. For pro-union employees to obtain a voter
list, they must first get at least 30
percent of their coworkers to sign cards asking the NLRB to sponsor a
vote on unionization.31 Needless
to say, the fact that employees must contact this 30 percent without
any list to work from is a daunting
prospect. If candidates for federal office were required to produce
signed statements of support from 30
percent of eligible voters simply in order to have an election
scheduled — and to collect these statements
without access to a voter list — it is hard to imagine how any
challenger could prevail. Certainly if a
foreign country operated in this manner, we would not hesitate to
denounce this as a sham electoral
system. But it is exactly such a system that U.S. citizens must endure
in workplaces across the country.
Once there is a showing of 30 percent support, the union is entitled
to a list of employee names and
addresses.32 Under federal law, the right to this list is presented as
a guarantee of unions’ ability to
campaign effectively. As the Board has explained,
As a practical matter, an employer, through his … ability to
communicate with employees
on plant premises, is assured of the continuing opportunity to inform
the entire electorate of
his views with respect to union representation. On the other hand,
without a list of employee
names and addresses, a labor organization, whose organizers normally
have no right of access to
plant premises, has no method by which it can be certain of reaching
all the employees with its
arguments in favor of representation, and, as a result, employees are
often completely unaware of
that point of view.33
What is striking here is not the Board’s decision to grant access to
employee lists, but its assumption
that this is sufficient to lay the groundwork for a fair election.
Thus, the Board’s standard is not that
competing parties must have equal opportunity to address voters, but
something much more minimal:
merely that pro-union employees must have some means of communicating
their message to coworkers.
However, even this goal has proved largely unattainable. To begin
with, the list provided the union
does not include either telephone or email contact information. In
addition, since the law merely requires
employees’ “addresses,” employers often omit details such as apartment
numbers or ZIP codes, further
complicating the work of union organizers.
The absence of phone numbers is particularly damaging in an age when
workers live far apart from
one another and often spend their free time running between kids,
schools, sports, stores, doctors, and
second jobs. The notion that union supporters should simply drive
around, hoping to find workers at
home who would welcome unannounced visitors, is unrealistic. Even
worse, this process is further
restricted by the timetable of NLRB elections. Once employees show 30
percent support for a vote, the
vote should take place within 40 days.34 The employer is not required
to provide a list of eligible voters
until seven days after the union’s showing of support.35 Thus, even
when the system works perfectly,
union activists normally have just over four weeks between first
receiving the voter list and the vote
itself. In this time, union supporters must find a way to reach
perhaps hundreds of coworkers, many of
whom have otherwise received no information about the union drive.36
By contrast, management is free to campaign against the union at any
time and in any part of the
workplace. Indeed, anti-union lawyers specializing in “preventive
labor relations” often recommend
that anti-union communications begin with new employee orientations to
forestall any thought of
organizing.37 Thus, by the time a union first receives the list of
eligible voters, management may have
been plying these same workers with anti-union messages over a period
of years. Again, if we imagine
a congressional election in which one candidate has been running
aggressive attack ads for a period
of years, while the other is prevented from contacting the voters
until four weeks before the election
day, no one would deem this a fair contest. The fact that it ends in a
secret ballot in no way changes the
fundamentally undemocratic nature of such a vote.

Free Speech
The right to free speech stands at the heart of the U.S. system. In
the words of the Supreme Court,
it is “the guardian of our democracy.”38 It goes without saying, of
course, that for free speech to be
meaningful, it must be applied equally to both sides of a debate.
Unfortunately, however, the rules
governing union elections essentially safeguard the free speech rights
of employers while denying
entirely those of employees.
Under federal labor law, management is permitted not only unlimited
reign to voice anti-union
arguments to employees, but also nearly unlimited reign to stifle
employees’ own political speech.
Indeed, one federal commission found that there are upwards of 10,000
cases per year of workers being
punished for engaging in pro-union speech.39 Labor law states that
employees may talk to each other
about the union, or hand out union literature, only when both they and
the person they’re talking to are
on break time and in a break area.40 Outside this narrow window, an
employer may enforce a total ban
on employees talking about the union or distributing union information
anywhere in the workplace,
even if managers themselves are engaged in ongoing anti-union
discussions and distribution of antiunion
literature throughout the workplace.
In political elections, opposing camps as a matter of course are
guaranteed equal speech rights.
Indeed, federal law takes particular care to guarantee that employers
do not create an uneven playing
field within their workplace for political candidates; thus the FEC
bans corporations from inviting one
candidate to address employees without allowing a similar opportunity
for his or her opponent.41 By
contrast, union campaigns are framed by a fundamentally unequal
playing field.
Under law, anti-union managers are free to speak every day — or
multiple times per day — to
every worker. Employers may require individual workers to meet one-on-
one with anyone from the
CEO to their immediate supervisor. In these meetings, the same person
who controls an individual’s
schedule, assigns job duties, approves vacation requests, grants
raises or promotions, and has the power
to terminate employees “at will,” now conveys in the strongest
possible terms the arguments for why
employees should oppose unionization. These meetings are mandatory,
and may be scheduled as
frequently as the company wants, even every day. The only conceivable
way a union might come close
to matching this form of campaigning is by having full-time union
representatives in the workplace who
could speak to employees with the same frequency as supervisors. Yet
under federal labor law, union
organizers have no right to set foot in the workplace.42 As one
management consultant explains,
the employer’s greater opportunity to communicate with its employee,
the virtually complete
access to the minds of voters during working hours, and the control
management can exert
over employees give the employer a considerable advantage over his
union counterparts. The
advantage can legally be utilized to produce a winning vote on
election day.43
In addition to speaking with individual employees in the workplace,
labor law grants employers
the right to require their employees to attend mass anti-union
meetings. These meetings, too, can be
held as often as management chooses, except in the last 24 hours
before a vote.44 The Board has ruled
that employers have “no statutory obligation to accord the employees
the opportunity to speak” at such
meetings.45 Not only is the union not granted equal time, but union
supporters may be banned from
such meetings, or may be permitted to attend on the condition that
they not ask questions or venture
opinions; those who speak up despite this condition can be legally
terminated.46

In explaining the rationale for such “captive audience” meetings, the
Board suggested that “if the
privilege of [employer] free speech is to be given real meaning, it
cannot be qualified by grafting upon it
conditions which are tantamount to negation.”47 The “negation” in this
case would be the invitation for
pro-union employees to speak out in opposition to management’s stated
views. Thus, the very principle
that the Supreme Court and the founders saw as the core of political
democracy — the “uninhibited,
robust and wide-open” debate among voters — is treated by the Board as
an intolerable “negation” of
management rights.
It is unsurprising that forced anti-union meetings are popular among
employers. One study,
surveying over 200 union elections in the late 1980s, found that 67
percent of employers required
attendance at anti-union campaign events.48 Data from the 1990s
suggest that this figure has recently
risen to as high as 92 percent.49
Finally, the impact of denying employees free speech rights has been
even further compounded by
Board rulings protecting employers’ right to issue negative statements
about unionization even if these
turn out to be false. The Board has declared that it will police
campaign propaganda only to the extent
that printed materials must be identified as coming from one side or
the other; beyond this, the Board
does not “probe into the truth or falsity of the parties’ campaign
statements, and … will not set aside
elections on the basis of misleading campaign statements.”50 The
Board’s reasoning is that, as long as
information is clearly identified as coming from one party or the
other, employees are sufficiently savvy
to investigate all claims with appropriate skepticism. Such a standard
may make sense in campaigns for
federal office. In the context created by the founders — an atmosphere
of free speech, where assertions
may be readily challenged, dissected, and met with counter-claims —
such a practice is reasonable. It
has become routine, for instance, that presidential debates are
followed by next-day scorecards reporting
the accuracy of each candidate’s claims. But the Board’s standard has
a wholly different effect in the
context of the workplace, where there is no right of reply and no
public forum in which to challenge such
assertions. As Thomas Jefferson noted, “reason and free inquiry are
the only effectual agents against
error.”51 In the absence of employee free speech rights, the ability
of management to issue misleading
statements without having to confront opposing arguments on an equal
footing undermines the essential
goal of U.S. democracy: creating an electorate that is sufficiently
well informed to choose wisely among
competing camps.
In this sense, union campaigns are conducted under a particularly
counterintuitive logic. Employers,
who are ineligible to vote or stand for election, have almost
unlimited scope for campaign activities,
while the actual employees and “voters” are largely prohibited from
engaging in similar actions.
The Tyranny of Mandatory Campaign Communications
Beyond the quantitative advantage that employers enjoy in the
frequency with which they can
communicate with voters, managers conducting anti-union campaigns also
enjoy a qualitative advantage
that is built into the very nature of their communication. Whereas all
pro-union discussion is voluntary,
anti-union discussions are mandatory. While considerable attention has
been paid to the problem of
mass “captive audience” meetings — where employees are forced to sit
through anti-union presentations
— the fact is that employees are “captives” in all workplace
communication with supervisors. When a
manager walks up to an employee on the job and launches into an anti-
union speech, the employee is
not free to leave, to start another conversation, to talk over their
supervisor, to plug up their ears, or even
to avoid paying attention.52 Once again, if we were told of an
electoral system in which the ruling party
forced voters to attend its campaign events as a condition of
employment — and in which voters would
be laid off if they did not respond respectfully to an ongoing stream
of one-sided jokes, comments, and
speeches — we would assume that this system belonged to some tin-pot
dictator. And again, the fact that
such an election might culminate in a secret ballot would in no way
undo our judgment. To discover that
this regime is, in fact, operating all across our country is
profoundly disturbing to anyone who hoped to
see the norms of U.S. democracy upheld in the workplace.

A Candidate that Cannot Be Voted Out of Office: The Irreducible Power
of Management
Beyond the power to compel voters’ attention, anti-union managers
enjoy a second form of unequal
power that is inherent in the structure of the firm: even if
management “loses” the election, it continues
to control almost everything in the economic lives of its employees.
This fact reinforces the impossibility
of imagining management to be a “candidate” in union elections,
because it is a candidate that can never
be voted out of office. If workers vote to unionize, their union joins
management, but does not replace it,
in governing the workplace. But this fact creates a dramatic imbalance
in the weight voters must accord
to each side’s campaign statements. Both pro- and anti-union
representatives may pressure employees
to side with them. However, if employees vote against unionization,
the union has no power to punish
them for this choice. On the other hand, if employees vote to organize
despite management’s anti-union
campaign, virtually all aspects of their work lives remain under the
control of the management they
have opposed. Statements that convey management’s disapproval of
unionization must lead rational
workers to fear that they will be subject to retribution even if a
union is voted in. By comparison, we
would never permit a system where the election for president occurred
midway through the incumbent’s
term, with the incumbent administration guaranteed another two years
in power even if it lost. Under
such conditions, governors, mayors, lobbyists, and federal contractors
would be understandably wary
of campaigning against the incumbent; even if their candidate won,
they would look forward to two
years of disfavor from those who controlled the federal budget.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of
pressure that every employee must confront in union campaigns.
Thus federal labor law grants employers a series of extremely powerful
one-sided privileges: the
use of supervisors to carry a partisan message to their subordinates;
unlimited anti-union campaigning
matched by a near-total ban on pro-union campaigning; and a nearly
unlimited right to mandatory antiunion
meetings with absolutely no corresponding pro-union response. Each of
these is an activity that
not only would be banned if transposed onto an analogous political
election, but is actually prohibited
employer behavior in political campaigns. Yet the protections we take
for granted in political campaigns
are absent in the workplace.

Equal Access to the Media
As with rights to free speech, labor law also provides management with
highly unequal access to the
media. Here too, NLRB practice departs radically from the norms of
U.S. democracy.
In elections for public office, our system aims at enabling both
parties’ messages to reach the
broadest possible audience. While media outlets are under no
obligation to provide coverage to any
candidate, federal law seeks to guarantee that whatever airtime is
available is offered to both parties on
an equal opportunity basis. In part, Congress has sought to make it
affordable for even modestly funded
candidates to reach as broad a public as possible. In drafting the
1971 Federal Elections Commission Act
(FECA), the Senate declared that it aimed “to give candidates for
public office greater access to the media
so that they may better explain their stand on the issues, and thereby
more fully and completely inform
the voters.”53 Thus, federal statute mandates that in the two months
leading up to a general election,
broadcast television and radio stations must sell advertising time to
political candidates at the lowest rate
they charge to any other customer. Furthermore, these outlets are
banned from charging a higher rate to
one candidate than to another.54
As communications media have evolved over the past century, Congress
has acted repeatedly to
ensure that the new technology is not used to unfair advantage. This
principle may be most clearly
evident in the “Equal Time Rule” governing broadcast media. In brief,
this rule mandates that if any
station provides airtime other than normal news coverage for one
candidate, it must provide equal time
for his or her opponent.55 The rule — first established in 1927 in
response to radio, then amended after
the development of television — reflects a keen understanding of the
importance of mass media in
political campaigns.56 From the beginning, lawmakers focused on
broadcast media as posing a unique
challenge to politics. For both lawmakers and the courts, broadcast
media are unique in two ways. First,
because the airwaves are physically finite, candidates depend on a
limited number of outlets for public
exposure. In theory, there could be an infinite number of newspapers,
limited only by the ability to
remain financially solvent; the same is not true of broadcast media.
To guarantee that any one candidate
is not shut out of broadcast access, federal regulation was deemed
necessary.57 Beyond their technological
limits, broadcast media were also perceived as uniquely influential.
In formulating the original
legislation, one congressional supporter argued that:
[radio broadcasters] can mold and crystallize sentiment as no agency
in the past has been able to
do. If the strong arm of the law does not prevent monopoly ownership
and make discrimination
by such stations illegal, American thought and American politics will
be largely at the mercy of
those who operate these stations.58
Similarly, the advent of television prompted Congress to add
regulations governing what was fast
becoming “the most important medium of political information.”59
Both principles undergirding the Equal Time Rule apply with equal
logic to union elections. While
communication in the workplace is not the sole medium for talking with
workers about unionization,
it is a finite resource, and it is by far the most influential
possible forum for campaigning. Yet where
federal law insists that both sides of a political campaign have equal
access to mass media, labor law is
content to allow one party to exercise near-monopoly control over
workplace media.60 Indeed, in union
election campaigns, communication within the workplace operates much
like state-controlled media in a
totalitarian nation. Employers may post anti-union information on
bulletin boards, in cafeterias and in
work areas, while banning similar postings by pro-union employees.
Even a company that has a general
“No Solicitation” rule in the workplace is permitted to violate its
own rule by distributing anti-union

literature while enforcing the rule against pro-union handouts.61
“Management prerogative,” the Board
has explained, “certainly extends far enough so as to permit an
employer to make rules that do not bind
himself.”62
Competing Logics: Equal Access for Citizens, Minimum Access for
Workers
Underlying the specific differences between the laws governing
political elections and those for
union formation, there is a deeper contrast in the fundamental
principle that undergirds each body of
law. The standard for U.S. elections is that candidates should each be
enabled to “fully and completely
inform the voters” of their positions.63 Thus, the Equal Time Rule
aims to “give the public the advantage
of a full, complete, and exhaustive discussion, on a fair opportunity
basis.”64 By contrast, labor law
proceeds on the assumption that as long as pro-union employees are not
completely prohibited from
communicating their message to potential voters, the process is fair.
The courts have asserted, for
instance, that as long as the union has access to some avenue of
communication with workers, it need not
have access to the workplace.65 Labor law thus effectively functions
on a “minimum access” standard.
Were this logic extended to federal elections, the law might hold that
there is no problem with one
candidate monopolizing the airwaves as long as his or her opponent is
at least free to hand out leaflets at
shopping malls.66
Campaigns for public office are never completely evenly matched, and
the candidate with the larger
war chest often uses it to buy superior airtime. However, both parties
have access to all the same media.
By contrast, the inequality built into union elections is not one of
resources, but one of rights. No matter
how much money a union may have, pro-union workers may be denied the
right to post notices, make
announcements, or circulate newsletters as a matter of company policy.
As the Supreme Court has
explained, labor law:
does not command that labor organizations …. be protected in the use
of every possible means
of reaching the minds of individual workers, nor that they are
entitled to use a medium of
communication simply because the employer is using it.67
Yet in political elections, federal law does command that such a
standard be upheld; any medium
that is made available to one candidate must be available to the
other. That such a mundane and obvious
principle of electoral democracy is so foreign to the framework of
union elections points again to the
discrepancy between the norms that govern the country and those that
rule the workplace.

Leveling the Playing Field by Controlling Campaign Finance
Traditionally, one of the most important means of creating a level
playing field among competing
candidates is through regulation of campaign financing. While the law
does not mandate that
campaigns operate with the same amount of money, it does seek to
establish a rough balance between
them. One of the core notions of democracy is that elections are
determined by the popular judgment of
the merits and faults of each candidate. If the candidates’ resources
are so unequal that one can saturate
the voters with his message while the other is barely heard, this
defeats the purpose of democracy since
citizens cannot make a truly informed choice. Following the
introduction of television advertising in the
1960s, legislators became concerned that “expenditures have been
escalating so as to threaten to make
money the principal determinant of election.”68 In order to “protect
the integrity of the federal election
process,” the 1971 FECA established the first limits on campaign
spending.69 The previous absence of
limits, House members explained, “makes the law seriously defective
because [it] … tends to give a
candidate with large financial resources an undue advantage over one
whose resources are limited,”
threatening to create a political system “dominated by special
interests and unresponsive to the public
will.”70
Thus, the fundamental goal of federal campaign law is to maintain a
balanced playing field between
the candidates by controlling the size of campaign budgets.71 The
establishment of public matching
funds within the presidential election context is intended
specifically to induce candidates to accept
such limits.72 Generally, this incentive has been sufficient to
guarantee that the resources of opposing
candidates, while certainly not equal, are roughly in the same
ballpark. Recently, however, a number of
independently wealthy candidates have chosen to eschew matching funds
in order to make use of their
own superior resources. To solve this problem, Congress in 2002 passed
a “Millionaire’s Amendment” to
the FECA.73 Under this statute, candidates for federal office who face
wealthy, self-funded opponents are
permitted to increase both donations and expenditures beyond the
normal limits.74 Thus, Congress has
acted repeatedly, if imperfectly, to maintain the rough balance of
resources needed to ensure competitive
elections.
When measured against the norms of political elections, NLRB
procedures fall far short. In
contrast to the FEC, there are absolutely no limits or penalties, and
very limited reporting requirements,
governing the amount of money that parties may spend on union
campaigns.75 Moreover, the Board has
completely ignored the principle of fair competition that is so
central to U.S. democracy. Aggressively
anti-union employers frequently make use of outside consultants, on-
the-clock meetings, legal strategies,
internal communications, the use of company property and equipment to
support these efforts,
and, above all, the paid time of supervisors who function as anti-
union campaign staff. All of these
expenditures would be both reported and strictly limited under the
FEC. And taken together, they add
up to a level of resources that few unions can ever hope to match. The
fact that none of this is reported
or limited in any way allows employers to exploit their superior
financial resources in order to run
campaigns on a fundamentally unequal footing.

Guaranteeing Voters Protection from Economic Coercion
It is, of course, axiomatic that U.S. citizens cannot be threatened,
coerced, intimidated, or bribed into
voting for one party or another. Beyond the fact that no individual is
permitted to bribe another, the law
is particularly concerned to prohibit the potential economic coercion
of employers over their employees.
A concern about employer-employee relations dates back to the Founding
Fathers. Thomas Jefferson
invoked “yeoman farmers” as the ideal democratic citizens because they
were economically independent;
employees, by contrast, were dependent on the will of others and,
therefore, vulnerable to pressure and
manipulation. While exceptional individuals may resist such pressures,
as Alexander Hamilton noted,
“in the main it will be found that a power over a man’s support is a
power over his will.”76 For this
reason, electoral law draws a wide arc designed to protect the
economically vulnerable from even vague
or implicit threats designed to influence voting behavior.
Federal law makes it illegal even to indirectly promise someone a job
in return for political
support, or to pledge support for someone’s future appointment to a
government post, in exchange for
political support.77 The law specifically bans managers in federal
agencies from exercising any form
of intimidation or coercion over their employees in order to control
their political behavior; those who
violate this statute are subject to imprisonment for up to three years.
78 So too, the Hatch Act prohibiting
federal employees from participating in political campaigns is partly
designed to protect such employees
from the demands of elected officials who may control their salaries.
79 Finally, elected officials are
banned from using any federally funded economic benefit — for
instance, cash welfare, food stamps, or
housing assistance — to influence voters.80 It is noteworthy that this
law specifically focuses on benefits
for the poor. These are the voters whose economic vulnerability makes
them most susceptible to political
intimidation. Thus, while the law is clearly aimed at preventing
federal corruption, it also reflects a keen
insight into how easily the economically dependent may be manipulated.
81
This insight is also embodied in the regulations governing
solicitation for PACs. While corporations
are free to operate PACs, they are severely restricted in the extent
to which they may call on employees
to support these efforts. Corporate PACs may solicit contributions
from shareholders and managerial
employees at any time. However, if they wish to solicit non-
supervisory employees, they may do so only
twice a year, and then only in written letters mailed to employees’
homes.82 If rank and file employees
are solicited for a corporate PAC, the mailing must include something
akin to a political “Miranda
warning,” specifically stating that they need not contribute, and that
there will be no consequence for
not participating.83 Moreover, corporate PACs are required to
establish accounting systems that make
it impossible for the employer to know whether any individual employee
has made a contribution.84
Finally, if a unionized company solicits its employees for a corporate
PAC, it must make its fundraising
methods (including all mailing lists) available for the union to use
in its own PAC solicitations.85 This
law is based on the understanding that workers are often extremely
sensitive to the need to make a good
impression on their boss. So many rewards and punishments depend on
the personal will of supervisors
— hiring and firing, increased or decreased hours, convenient or
inconvenient days off, flexibility to care
for sick children, and myriad other terms of employment — that many
employees shy away from any
behavior that might be displeasing to those in charge. Thus federal
law in this area provides multiple
layers of protection to insulate workers from any possible pressure to
mold their political behavior to suit
the boss’ desires.
State laws similarly recognize the particular importance of
safeguarding employees from the undue
influence of those who control their economic lives. States have
commonly adopted statutes such as
Michigan’s, making it a misdemeanor (punishable by fine and
imprisonment) to threaten an employee

with termination on the basis of supporting one candidate or another.
86 Moreover, state laws generally
regulate indirect as well as direct threats. Many states, for
instance, ban employers from including any
form of political advertisement or advocacy in employees’ pay
envelopes.87
Under electoral law, things that are perfectly legal for unrelated
individuals to say to each other
become illegal when conveyed by an employer to his or her employees.
For instance, a homeowner can
declare that he or she doesn’t want any Republicans in the house, but
in most states, an employer cannot
make a similar declaration about his or her workplace. This reflects
legislators’ recognition that the same
words coming from one’s employer carry an additional weight — and an
implied threat of retaliation —
which is not present in the speech of random individuals or neighbors.
So too do both federal and state
statutes recognize the potentially coercive nature of employer-
employee communications even when they
do not include an explicit threat. The Hatch Act, for instance, does
not state that federal employees can
work on their bosses’ campaigns unless the boss explicitly makes the
work a condition of employment.
Coercion does not need to be spelled out to be understood.
By contrast, the Board appears blind to the insight that animated the
founders.88 Under labor law,
while explicit threats or bribes are illegal, anything that falls
short of an explicitly articulated threat is
permitted.89 For instance, employers may not tell workers that “if you
wear a union button, you’ll never
get a promotion,” but they are perfectly free to state that “a union
is a declaration of disloyalty to me
personally, and an affront to everything this company stands for.” To
any reasonable human being, there
is little material difference between these two statements. Yet under
labor law, the second is perfectly
legal.
This same implausible distinction applies to threats aimed at the
workforce as a whole. Employers
may not threaten to close up shop in retaliation for a pro-union vote.
But they are free to “predict” that
unionization will lead to a shutdown. Specifically, an employer is
permitted to tell “what he reasonably
believes will be the likely economic consequences of unionization that
are outside his control,” but not
to issue “threats of economic reprisal to be taken solely on his own
volition.”90 While this distinction
may be theoretically intelligible, it is virtually meaningless in
practice. Indeed, anti-union lawyers have
become adept at counseling their clients on how to intimidate
employees effectively while obeying the
letter of the law. One such text, for example, advises that:
Management may … say that it could not state with ‘certainty,’ but
would predict that if
the union wins the election and the firm has to operate under a union
contract that adds
considerably (not minimally) to costs, then, ‘as a good businessman,’
the employer would have to
carefully consider the necessity of moving operations out of the
country, so that costs would be
reduced, and the product could be sold at a profit.91
It may be unsurprising, then, that according to one survey, while only
one percent of companies
actually close up shop after their employees vote to unionize, 71
percent of manufacturing employers
threaten to close in the course of a union election campaign.92 The
issue of “predicted” versus
“threatened” layoffs provides one of the clearest contrasts between
electoral and labor law. Neither
federal nor state statutes governing election to public office
recognize such a distinction. Instead,
most state laws are premised on a “reasonable person” logic. Employers
are prohibited from making
statements that would serve to influence a reasonable person’s voting
behavior, even if they contain no
explicit threat. In at least a dozen states, predictions of layoffs in
the context of an election are specifically
prohibited by law. Arizona, for instance, mandates that within 90 days
of an election, an employer may
not:
put up or otherwise exhibit in any place where his employees are
working or are present in the
course of employment a handbill, notice or placard containing a
threat, notice or information that
if any particular ticket or candidate is elected or defeated work in
his place or establishment will
cease in whole or in part, or his establishment will be closed, or the
wages of his workmen will
be reduced, or other threats, express or implied, intended or
calculated to influence the political
opinions or actions of his employees.93

Thus, what is expressly prohibited in political elections is
explicitly condoned in union elections.
Indeed, under current labor law, it is hard to determine what employer
behavior would not be
permitted in the course of a union election, short of a clumsy and
explicit threat. Employers are free,
for instance, to report that major customers will stop buying from
them in the event of unionization,94
or to inform employees that personal relationships in the company will
suffer if a union is voted in.95
Likewise, an employer who threatened to eliminate “special personal
arrangement[s]” such as “time off
when your children [are] sick, weddings, for haircuts, a school prom,
emergencies at home, and to catch
up on studies” was deemed within his legal rights.96 Even an employer
who told workers that “I hope
you guys are ready to pack up and move to Mexico” was found to have
acted legally.97 An employer who
exhibited a series of posters depicting factories that were closed as
a result of unionization was thought to
have approached the “brink” of acceptable behavior, but was ultimately
judged to have engaged merely
in persuasive, not coercive, communication.98
The impact of this sort of officially “non-coercive” speech is not
lost on employees. One survey
found that 70 percent of U.S. workers believed that “corporations
sometimes harass, intimidate, or fire
employees who openly speak up for a union.”99 Another poll reported
that 79 percent of workers thought
it was either “somewhat” or “very” likely that employees “will get
fired if they try to organize a union.”100
If these are the assumptions that frame employees’ thinking about
unionization even before a union
drive begins, it is unsurprising that they would be extremely
sensitive to the anti-union statements of
their supervisors. As labor attorney Kate Andrias notes, “It is only
logical that a worker who already
believes that pro-union speech leads to termination, and who then
hears carefully phrased predictions
from her employer, would suppress her pro-union speech.”101
The failure of labor law to protect workers from what any reasonable
person would interpret as
economic threats is particularly disturbing given that the need for
such protection is even greater in
union campaigns than in those for public office. In the context of
congressional elections, for instance,
the behavior of individual employees is much less consequential — and
much less noticed — than
in union elections. In most federal campaigns, the outcome only
marginally impacts any individual
employer. Further, the result is determined by several hundred
thousand voters, among whom any
single employee counts for little. Thus, there is little reason for an
employer to police or punish the
political behavior of subordinates. All of this is reversed in union
campaigns. The outcome matters
greatly to management, and because employees all look to see who among
their coworkers has taken
a stance for or against unionization, the behavior of individual
employees may matter greatly. As a
result, managers have much greater incentive to coerce or threaten
employees into abandoning the union
effort. Thus, in exactly the setting where protection against economic
coercion is most needed, the law is
weakest.
The range of fears that workers may experience during a union election
does not necessarily
prevent them from voting for a union in the privacy of the polling
station. But it does inhibit them
from participating in all of the pre-election-day activities that make
up a political campaign. Even if
threatened workers are not afraid to vote their conscience, they will
be understandably wary of wearing
buttons, signing petitions, going to rallies, handing out leaflets, or
displaying bumper stickers. Again, if
we imagine a country in which the ruling party is free to engage in
all the public hoopla of campaigns,
while its opponents put their livelihood at risk by doing likewise, no
American could think this counted
as “democracy.”

Guaranteeing Voters Protection from Coercion at the Polls
When workers decide to form a union, they are generally required to
vote at work, where they may
be easily observed by supervisors.102 Placing the voting booths in a
location controlled by management
creates myriad opportunities for subtle coercion. While the ballot
itself remains secret, management
may call individual workers to the polls on a schedule of its
choosing, making it easy to monitor voting
activity.103 Employees who show up at the polls together with known
union supporters, or who are
seen conversing with pro-union employees, may understandably fear that
they have been marked for
retribution, even though their ballot per se remains secret.
It is the concern to avoid situations such as this that has driven
election officials to mandate that
polling places for political elections be located in neutral spaces.
While the siting of polling places is
local rather than federal law, the FEC advises local officials that
the importance of “impartiality at the
voting booths” creates a “strong public policy reason” to guarantee
that polling places are situated in
nonpartisan locations.104 In this way, not only is the ballot itself
secret, but the choice of whether or
not to vote, or who to vote with, cannot be a cause for fear of
retribution. In political elections, voting
cannot take place at an office owned by one of the campaigns, or even
by a relative of a candidate. Nor
would employees be required to vote at their workplace if the employer
in question had taken a very
active and public role in support of a particular candidate. Thus, for
example, Texas’ code mandates
that polling places be located in a “public building,” and
specifically prohibits polling places located at
the residence of a candidate or party official.105 Indeed, that state
is so intent on guaranteeing impartial
voting locations that, in the event that no public building is
available for use as a polling place, county
commissioners are authorized to purchase a new building for that
purpose.106
Thus, both federal and state officials embrace a higher standard for
voting procedures than
is available to U.S. workers seeking to create a union. The practice
that is nearly universal in U.S.
workplaces — requiring employees to vote in their places of work,
easily monitored by their managers
and supervisors even when these individuals have engaged in ardent
campaigning against unionization
— is prohibited in political elections as a matter of course.

Timely Implementation of the Voters’ Will
As described earlier, one of the cornerstones of U.S. democracy is
that elections must be held on a
regular and timely basis. If union elections were run in keeping with
these principles, the vote would be
held within a fixed period of time. This would guarantee that the
process was responsive to the will of
the voters, and would prevent the incumbent administration (here, the
management) from manipulating
the timing, and thus potentially the outcome, of the election.
Instead, labor law provides none of these
protections. When workers petition for a vote on unionization, the
Board is required to hold a hearing
determining exactly which employees should be included in the union,
and the employer is a fully
recognized participant in this hearing. Thus, employers are provided
an opportunity to delay the
election, using this time to campaign more aggressively against
unionization. “As a practical matter,”
one anti-union consultant explains, “the union controls the initiation
of the organizing drive … but the
company controls the end. This is done by delaying the election.”107
In many cases, employers’ other
advantages over pro-union workers are sufficient to deter unionization
even within the normal time
period. However, if employers deem it to their advantage to delay the
election, the Board generally has
no ability to force a timely election and no choice but to permit
delays. And indeed, where employers
choose this strategy, the evidence suggests a direct correlation
between election delays and the
proportion of employees voting against unionization.108
Even more disturbing is the incidence of delay in certifying the
outcome of an election once it is
held. In political elections, the law requires that procedural
challenges be resolved in time for a winner
to take office on a timely basis. While laws vary from state to state,
a common principle is that embodied
in Texas statute, which mandates that even in the case of an election
whose outcome is contested, the
apparent winner must take office pending the outcome of an
investigation.109 This principle was affirmed
in litigation following a particularly unusual election for Justice of
the Peace. The election in question
was marred by irregularities, including eligible voters having been
prevented from voting due to errors
by election officials. The candidate who lost the election filed a
challenge immediately following the
vote, and the challenge was upheld by a state judge. Nevertheless, the
candidate who won the election
was sworn in on schedule and took office pending the outcome of the
investigation. Ultimately, the
judge ordered the election to be rerun. Nonetheless, the candidate who
won the first round of voting
was allowed to hold office until the new election was run, and acted
with full authority in that position
pending the new vote.110
If this principle were followed in union elections, workers who voted
to organize would have
their union immediately recognized by their employer, who would
immediately commence good
faith bargaining. In elections where employers file procedural
objections, these challenges would
be thoroughly investigated. If necessary, a new election would be
ordered. While the challenge was
being adjudicated, however, the employees would have a union with full
legal authority to represent
themselves.
Instead, when the outcome of a union election is challenged by an
employer, the union is barred from
taking office for as long as it takes to resolve the complaints. Since
employers may pursue an appeal
through five levels of adjudication — the regional NLRB office, an
administrative law judge, the full
NLRB in Washington, DC, federal district court, and finally the U.S.
Supreme Court — appeals may take
many years. During all this time, the workplace is governed as if
employees voted against unionization,
no matter what the polls may have shown.

Under these conditions, it is understandable that anti-union employers
have an incentive to pursue
prolonged appeals, since the appeal itself will forestall
unionization, and in the meantime many union
supporters will get despondent or move, leaving a weakened workers’
organization to pick up the pieces
if it is ever recognized. But this process marks a dramatic departure
from the norms that define U.S.
democracy. It is inconceivable that we would allow a political
election — whether for President of the
United States or a local Justice of the Peace — to be upheld in this
fashion. Yet these are the conditions
that frame workers’ efforts to represent themselves in collective
bargaining.

Enforcement and Penalties
The final point of comparison between political and union elections is
the manner in which each
system enforces the rights and standards it has established. In
electoral politics, the law provides a
combination of fines and imprisonment for those who violate the norms
of democratic process. Under
federal election law, for instance, a radio or television station that
refuses a candidate airtime may have its
broadcast license revoked.111 Similarly, violation of federal campaign
laws is punished by a combination
of financial penalties and imprisonment, with the penalty for illegal
donations reaching up to ten
times the amount contributed.112 The IRS code additionally stipulates
that candidates that “knowingly
and willfully” exceed allowed expenditure limits are subject to a
$5,000 fine and one year in prison.
Those who “knowingly and willfully” make false or misleading
statements to the FEC, with the goal of
covering up illegal contributions or expenditures, are subject to a
$10,000 fine and five years in prison.113
Nor are such penalties restricted to violations of campaign finances.
A federal employee who “uses
his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or
affecting, the … election of any candidate for
[federal] office” is subject to both fines and imprisonment.114 Anyone
who offers an economic incentive
for someone else to vote, to avoid voting, or to support a particular
candidate is subject to fines and up
to two years in prison.115 Finally, any individual who lies, conceals,
or covers up information regarding
attempts to intimidate voters is subject to fines and up to five years
imprisonment.116
All of this is in striking contrast to union elections, where even
employers who knowingly, willfully,
repeatedly, and explicitly threaten employees, bribe employees, fund
anti-union campaigns, destroy
union literature, fire union supporters and lie to federal officials
in an effort to cover up these deeds
— even employers who commit all these acts in a single campaign and
are convicted of having done so in
federal court — can never be fined a single cent, have any license or
other commercial privilege revoked,
or serve a day in prison.
Compared with the enforcement mechanisms for electoral law, the
process of enforcing labor law is
complex, delay-ridden, and largely toothless. In the event that an
employer illegally coerces employees
in an election campaign, the employee must file a complaint with the
local office of the Board. This
office investigates the charge and, if it believes it to be
meritorious, may issue a formal complaint. The
complaint is heard by an administrative law judge. However, the
judge’s ruling here is not binding.
Either party may file an appeal to this ruling, which will be heard by
the Board itself. Again, Board
decisions themselves are not self-enforcing; if an employer refuses to
obey a Board ruling, the Board
must go into federal court to seek enforcement. In 2003, the median
wait for an unfair labor practice case
pending a Board ruling was nearly three years from the filing of the
charge;117 employers who choose to
appeal the Board’s ruling to the federal courts could add years of
delay to this process.
Furthermore, throughout this process, employees have no private right
of action in seeking to
redress illegal employer activity. If employees believe that their
employer illegally sabotaged a union
election campaign, they have no standing to bring this charge in open
court. Instead, they must file
a complaint with the Board, which makes an unreviewable decision on
whether to take the case.118 If
political elections were run this way, it would mean that neither Al
Gore nor George W. Bush would have
had access to the courts in their battle over the results of the 2000
election. Instead, each would have
had to file a complaint with the FEC; if the FEC chose not to pursue
their complaint, the case would be
dead, with no alternative possibility of redress or appeal. Finally,
in the event that the NLRB decides to
proceed with a case, the Board takes over “ownership” of the
complaint. Thus, Board agents may choose
to drop a case at any time, or to settle on unfavorable terms, even
over the opposition of the original
plaintiffs.

Beyond the delays and frustrations built into the prosecution of labor
law violators, there are
virtually no penalties for those ultimately found guilty. Employees
who are fired for advocating
unionization, for instance, bear the burden of proving that their
termination was due to this activity.119 If,
after years of proceedings, an employer is found guilty of having
illegally terminated union supporters,
the maximum possible penalty is that the employer may be required to
hire the worker back, and to
provide backpay for the period the person was laid off, minus whatever
money the person earned at another
job in the meantime.120 Since most individuals find another job, the
total back payment may be quite small.
If earnings in the replacement job equaled those of the former
position, the employer may not owe any
backpay whatsoever. It should be noted that the Board considers
illegally fired employees to have an
affirmative burden to seek work proactively; a fired worker who does
not look for another job after being
illegally laid off may find his or her backpay cut as a result, even
after winning the case.121
It is unsurprising that this type of penalty is not an effective
deterrent against illegal behavior.
Rational employers might well decide that the modest penalty for
firing a few union supporters was
worth the benefit of scaring hundreds more into abandoning the cause
of unionization. Nevertheless,
even repeat offenders of labor law can never be subject to punitive
fines of any amount by the Board.122
It is telling that even other areas of employment law provide stiffer
penalties for illegal employer
activities. For instance, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with
Disabilities Act, and the Age
Discrimination Employment Act all provide for attorneys’ fees and
punitive damages as a remedy for
employer violations. Indeed, even administrative laws such as the
Occupational Safety and Health Act
or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, provide punitive fines
or allow for damages through
private litigation. But in the most critical arena of workplace
regulation, the law is virtually toothless.123
In the case of willful and egregious offenders, the Board has the
power to issue an order compelling
an employer to recognize a union and commence negotiations. However,
the Board is extremely
reluctant to use this power. Recently, the Board overturned just such
an order that was issued by an
administrative law judge. In the case in question, three-fourths of
the engineering employees in South
Florida’s Hialeah Hospital signed cards indicating their support for
unionization. Shortly thereafter, the
hospital secretly videotaped and then fired a pro-union employee,
threatened reprisals if workers voted
to organize, and promised to promote an employee if he convinced
others to vote against unionization.
After these actions, a majority of employees ultimately voted against
unionization. The Board found the
employer guilty of multiple violations of the law but insisted that
the only appropriate remedy was to
rerun the election.124
Yet since there is no possibility of punitive damages under the NLRA,
even when a bargaining order
is imposed, an aggressively anti-union employer ultimately faces
almost no sanction for flouting the law.
When a union has been certified after winning an election, employers
are legally required to negotiate
a contract in good faith. However, if an employer refuses to bargain
in good faith, the legal remedy is
simply to order the employer, once again, to negotiate in good faith.
125 One of the most extreme such
examples is the case of the Sparks Nugget casino. In 1977, the Board
found that the Sparks Nugget had
been guilty of bargaining in bad faith for the three previous years,
and instructed the employer to return
to the negotiating table in good faith. In 1980, the Court of Appeals
enforced the Board’s order, but the
employer continued in its refusal to negotiate. In 1984, an
administrative law judge once again found
the employer was illegally bargaining in bad faith. In 1990, the Board
upheld this decision, ordering the
employer back to the table. Again, the employer appealed to the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals, and in
1992, more than 17 years after the employer began disregarding the
law, the court enforced another Board
order requiring the company to return to the negotiating table.126
Thus, even those protections that exist on the books under labor law
become illusory when one seeks
to enforce them. But any electoral system that lacks effective
enforcement cannot possibly safeguard the
democratic rights of its participants.

How America Judges the World: Higher Standards Abroad than
at Home?
One way to illuminate U.S. standards of what constitutes “free and
fair” elections is to examine the
criteria that our government uses to evaluate the legitimacy of other
countries’ elections.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been charged by
Congress with the mandate
to “strengthen democratic electoral processes abroad.”127 According to
the NED, for elections to be
legitimate they must be not only “free,” but also “competitive.”128 In
2002, the State Department invoked
this principle in criticizing the government of Ukraine for failing to
“ensure a level playing field for all
political parties” in its national elections.129
Among the criticisms leveled at Ukraine were that employees of state-
owned enterprises were
pressured to support the ruling party; mineworkers were pressured to
withdraw from a trade union
supportive of the opposition; faculty and students were instructed by
their university rector to vote
for specific candidates; ruling party candidates took advantage of
public offices for meeting spaces
while denying suitable meeting space to the opposition; and the
governing party enjoyed “uncritical
coverage from regional and local media outlets” while the opposition
was faced with restricted access
to billboards, local media, and state-funded television.130 If
transposed onto the grounds of a U.S.
workplace, everything that occurred in this flawed election in Ukraine
would be legal. Employers are
perfectly free to use workplace space for partisan meetings while
denying use of that space to union
supporters, to monopolize communications media within the workplace,
to instruct employees on how to
vot,; and to pressure employees (in every way short of an explicit
threat) to vote against unionization. It
is particularly telling that the State Department never raised any
doubt that the Ukrainian election was
conducted by secret ballot. Such an election may be “free” in the
sense that it ends in a secret ballot, but
it is neither “fair” nor “competitive.”
Similarly, in 2003 the State Department issued a statement criticizing
the Republic of Armenia for
an “election process [that] fell short of international standards.”131
The United States ambassador to the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe specifically cited
“violations by state-run television
of the principle of equal access for all candidates.”132 In addition,
election monitors reported allegations
that “public sector employees, factory workers, teachers, students and
others were instructed to attend
the incumbent’s rallies.”133 Again, the same things that disqualify an
election abroad — including forcing
employees to attend partisan meetings or rallies — are perfectly legal
in every private sector workplace
across the United States.
In the leadup to 2004 elections in Ukraine, the House and Senate
passed concurrent resolutions
calling for electoral reforms in that country. Apart from the specific
criticisms of Ukraine, the resolution
outlines some of the core principles defining democratic elections:
a genuinely free and fair election requires a period of political
campaigning conducted in an
environment in which … the candidates [may present] their views and
qualifications to the
citizenry, including … enjoying unimpeded access to television, radio,
print, and Internet media
on a non-discriminatory basis.134
In conclusion, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell insisted that “the
Ukrainian authorities … need to
ensure an election process that enables all of the candidates to
compete on a level playing field.”135 We
can only hope that this same standard of democracy may one day be
applied in the U.S. workplace.

Conclusion
At every step of the way, from the beginning to the end of a union
election, NLRB procedures
fail to live up to the standards of U.S. democracy. Apart from the use
of secret ballots, there is not
a single aspect of the NLRB process that does not violate the norms we
hold sacred for political
elections. The unequal access to voter lists; the absence of financial
controls; monopoly control of both
media and campaigning within the workplace; the use of economic power
to force participation in
political meetings; the tolerance of thinly disguised threats; the
location of voting booths on partisan
grounds; open-ended delays in implementing the results of an election;
and the absence of meaningful
enforcement measures — every one of these constitutes a profound
departure from the norms that have
governed U.S. democracy since its inception.
While the nation’s elected officials include many talented and
tireless campaigners, it is hard to
imagine anyone — Republican or Democrat — who could win election under
the conditions that workers
must use to form unions. Indeed, almost any single one of the problems
listed above would be enough
to sink all but a handful of campaigns. If congressional elections
were run just as they are now, except
that a challenger was required to show signed statements of support
from 30 percent of registered voters
before the district would schedule an election, this by itself would
make elections impossible in most of
the country. Similarly, if the only change were that one candidate had
access to voter lists and the other
did not, this by itself would make victory virtually unattainable for
the disadvantaged candidate. It is
easy to imagine a similar result for each of these failures of the
NLRB system: if the only problem was
that one candidate had monopoly control over the media; if it was just
that one could talk to voters every
day at work while the other had to visit them at night in their homes;
if it was only that local businesses
threatened to lay off employees if a certain candidate was elected; or
only that one candidate had the
power to compel all voters to attend one-sided campaign rallies — any
single one of these would result
in certain defeat for the vast majority of candidates.
Intuitively, one would think that if there were any difference between
union and political elections,
it would be that union elections provided even greater protections to
participants, out of recognition of
their greater vulnerability. In political elections, the actions of
either employer or employee are part of a
much larger electorate and, therefore, contribute in a much more
indirect way to the election’s outcome.
In addition, since most political campaigning — as well as the final
act of voting itself — takes place
outside the workplace, there is much less opportunity for employer
surveillance of, knowledge of, and
influence over employees’ political behavior. In union elections, all
of this is reversed; the campaign
primarily takes place in the workplace, where employers know who is
talking pro-union, who is wearing
what kind of button, who has signed what petition, and who shows up to
vote (and in whose company)
on the election day. Given the far greater opportunity for undue
influence in the workplace, one might
suppose that protections against voter coercion would be more
stringent in union elections than in
political elections. Just the opposite is true.
The analysis above points to an inescapable conclusion. The high hopes
and bold words that
accompanied the passage of the Wagner Act have not been realized. It
is possible for scholars, lobbyists,
and lawmakers to hold widely divergent beliefs regarding how unions
should be formed. But it is no
longer possible to believe that the current system mirrors the
procedures we use to elect public officials.
Indeed, from the point of view of the framers of the Constitution, of
U.S. jurisprudence, and of state
and federal statute, the current NLRB system is profoundly broken —
and profoundly undemocratic.
Whatever path labor law reform may take, it must begin with this
understanding.
SilentOtto
2008-08-11 18:52:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by SilentOtto
Were it not for the exploitation of flaws in current laws regulating
the formation of unions by those with a vested interest in preventing
unionization, this wouldn't even be an issue.
"Card Check" is a response to the inherent unfairness in the current
law, not something thought up by "Union Thugs" to enhance their
ability to "coerce" workers to form a union, as rightards, like
Dennis, would have one believe.
Perhaps it's not a perfect solution, but in that case perhaps
rightards, like Dennis, who oppose the measure should come up with a
plan of their own that eliminates the inherent inequities in the laws
governing the formation of unions, and render the issue moot.
Of course, rightards, like Dennis, aren't really concerned with
"fairness", their agenda is to destroy all unions and this is just one
of the planks in their anti-union platform.
*************
Ooohhhh...letting workers "vote in secret"....ooohhhh...that's scary.
They can still vote in secret if they want, rightard.

If a majority of the workers request a secret ballot, then a secret
ballot it is.

The only thing this legislation does is eliminate the right of the
employer to mandate a secret ballot.

After all, it's the workers decision to form a union or not, not
management's. Why should management get to dictate the form the
process takes?

Anyway...

You've been posting your anti-union bullshit for too long on these
forums for anyone to believe that you've any interest in fairness.

You just want to keep things the way they are now, because you know
that the way they are now makes it damn near impossible for unions to
organize workers.
Post by SilentOtto
Dionysus
At least you're coming clean now, ya drunken fucking Mick...

Heh heh...

Rightards...
Post by SilentOtto
Heh heh...
Rightards...
http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/ARAWReports/FreeandFa...
Competitive Elections: Equal Access to Voters
The first prerequisite of a competitive election is allowing
candidates equal access to the list of
potential voters. As a general rule, voter rolls are in the public
domain and available to any citizen.
Specific procedures for getting copies of voter names and addresses
are set by each state or county, but
it is axiomatic that whatever information is available must be
provided to competing candidates on an
equal basis.30
By comparison, labor law denies workers equal access to voter lists.
When workers become interested
in forming a union in their workplace, neither they nor any union with
which they are affiliated can get
a list of potential voters; nor do employees have the legal right
simply to take home a list of coworkers
for use in union organizing. For pro-union employees to obtain a voter
list, they must first get at least 30
percent of their coworkers to sign cards asking the NLRB to sponsor a
vote on unionization.31 Needless
to say, the fact that employees must contact this 30 percent without
any list to work from is a daunting
prospect. If candidates for federal office were required to produce
signed statements of support from 30
percent of eligible voters simply in order to have an election
scheduled — and to collect these statements
without access to a voter list — it is hard to imagine how any
challenger could prevail. Certainly if a
foreign country operated in this manner, we would not hesitate to
denounce this as a sham electoral
system. But it is exactly such a system that U.S. citizens must endure
in workplaces across the country.
Once there is a showing of 30 percent support, the union is entitled
to a list of employee names and
addresses.32 Under federal law, the right to this list is presented as
a guarantee of unions’ ability to
campaign effectively. As the Board has explained,
As a practical matter, an employer, through his … ability to
communicate with employees
on plant premises, is assured of the continuing opportunity to inform
the entire electorate of
his views with respect to union representation. On the other hand,
without a list of employee
names and addresses, a labor organization, whose organizers normally
have no right of access to
plant premises, has no method by which it can be certain of reaching
all the employees with its
arguments in favor of representation, and, as a result, employees are
often completely unaware of
that point of view.33
What is striking here is not the Board’s decision to grant access to
employee lists, but its assumption
that this is sufficient to lay the groundwork for a fair election.
Thus, the Board’s standard is not that
competing parties must have equal opportunity to address voters, but
merely that pro-union employees must have some means of communicating
their message to coworkers.
However, even this goal has proved largely unattainable. To begin
with, the list provided the union
does not include either telephone or email contact information. In
addition, since the law merely requires
employees’ “addresses,” employers often omit details such as apartment
numbers or ZIP codes, further
complicating the work of union organizers.
The absence of phone numbers is particularly damaging in an age when
workers live far apart from
one another and often spend their free time running between kids,
schools, sports, stores, doctors, and
second jobs. The notion that union supporters should simply drive
around, hoping to find workers at
home who would welcome unannounced visitors, is unrealistic. Even
worse, this process is further
restricted by the timetable of NLRB elections. Once employees show 30
percent support for a vote, the
vote should take place within 40 days.34 The employer is not required
to provide a list of eligible voters
until seven days after the union’s showing of support.35 Thus, even
when the system works perfectly,
union activists normally have just over four weeks between first
receiving the voter list and the vote
itself. In this time, union supporters must find a way to reach
perhaps hundreds of coworkers, many of
whom have otherwise received no information about the union drive.36
By contrast, management is free to campaign against the union at any
time and in any part of the
workplace. Indeed, anti-union lawyers specializing in “preventive
labor relations” often recommend
that anti-union communications begin with new employee orientations to
forestall any thought of
organizing.37 Thus, by the time a union first receives the list of
eligible voters, management may have
been plying these same workers with anti-union messages over a period
of years. Again, if we imagine
a congressional election in which one candidate has been running
aggressive attack ads for a period
of years, while the other is prevented from contacting the voters
until four weeks before the election
day, no one would deem this a fair contest. The fact that it ends in a
secret ballot in no way changes the
fundamentally undemocratic nature of such a vote.
Free Speech
The right to free speech stands at the heart of the U.S. system. In
the words of the Supreme Court,
it is “the guardian of our democracy.”38 It goes without saying, of
course, that for free speech to be
meaningful, it must be applied equally to both sides of a debate.
Unfortunately, however, the rules
governing union elections essentially safeguard the free speech rights
of employers while denying
entirely those of employees.
Under federal labor law, management is permitted not only unlimited
reign to voice anti-union
arguments to employees, but also nearly unlimited reign to stifle
employees’ own political speech.
Indeed, one federal commission found that there are upwards of 10,000
cases per year of workers being
punished for engaging in pro-union speech.39 Labor law states that
employees may talk to each other
about the union, or hand out union literature, only when both they and
the person they’re talking to are
on break time and in a break area.40 Outside this narrow window, an
employer may enforce a total ban
on employees talking about the union or distributing union information
anywhere in the workplace,
even if managers themselves are engaged in ongoing anti-union
discussions and distribution of antiunion
literature throughout the workplace.
In political elections, opposing camps as a matter of course are
guaranteed equal speech rights.
Indeed, federal law takes particular care to guarantee that employers
do not create an uneven playing
field within their workplace for political candidates; thus the FEC
bans corporations from inviting one
candidate to address employees without allowing a similar opportunity
for his or her opponent.41 By
contrast, union campaigns are framed by a fundamentally unequal
playing field.
Under law, anti-union managers are free to speak every day — or
multiple times per day — to
every worker. Employers may require individual workers to meet one-on-
one with anyone from the
CEO to their immediate supervisor. In these meetings, the same person
who controls an individual’s
schedule, assigns job duties, approves vacation requests, grants
raises or promotions, and has the power
to terminate employees “at will,” now conveys in the strongest
possible terms the arguments for why
employees should oppose unionization. These meetings are mandatory,
and may be scheduled as
frequently as the company wants, even every day. The only conceivable
way a union might come close
to matching this form of campaigning is by having full-time union
representatives in the workplace who
could speak to employees with the same frequency as supervisors. Yet
under federal labor law, union
organizers have no right to set foot in the workplace.42 As one
management consultant explains,
the employer’s greater opportunity to communicate with its employee,
the virtually complete
access to the minds of voters during working hours, and the control
management can exert
over employees give the employer a considerable advantage over his
union counterparts. The
advantage can legally be utilized to produce a winning vote on
election day.43
In addition to speaking with individual employees in the workplace,
labor law grants employers
the right to require their employees to attend mass anti-union
meetings. These meetings, too, can be
held as often as management chooses, except in the last 24 hours
before a vote.44 The Board has ruled
that employers have “no statutory obligation to accord the employees
the opportunity to speak” at such
meetings.45 Not only is the union not granted equal time, but union
supporters may be banned from
such meetings, or may ...
read more »
Dennis
2008-08-11 21:47:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by SilentOtto
Were it not for the exploitation of flaws in current laws regulating
the formation of unions by those with a vested interest in preventing
unionization, this wouldn't even be an issue.
"Card Check" is a response to the inherent unfairness in the current
law, not something thought up by "Union Thugs" to enhance their
ability to "coerce" workers to form a union, as rightards, like
Dennis, would have one believe.
Perhaps it's not a perfect solution, but in that case perhaps
rightards, like Dennis, who oppose the measure should come up with a
plan of their own that eliminates the inherent inequities in the laws
governing the formation of unions, and render the issue moot.
Of course, rightards, like Dennis, aren't really concerned with
"fairness", their agenda is to destroy all unions and this is just one
of the planks in their anti-union platform.
*************
Ooohhhh...letting workers "vote in secret"....ooohhhh...that's scary.
They can still vote in secret if they want, rightard.

If a majority of the workers request a secret ballot, then a secret
ballot it is.

The only thing this legislation does is eliminate the right of the
employer to mandate a secret ballot.

After all, it's the workers decision to form a union or not, not
management's. Why should management get to dictate the form the
process takes?

Anyway...

You've been posting your anti-union bullshit for too long on these
forums for anyone to believe that you've any interest in fairness.

You just want to keep things the way they are now, because you know
that the way they are now makes it damn near impossible for unions to
organize workers.
Post by SilentOtto
Dionysus
At least you're coming clean now, ya drunken fucking Mick...
**********
Naw, Dumb Otto, your childishly vulgar chauvinism aside, it's not that I am
anti-union, as I am pro capitalism. If we had capitalism, there'd be no need
for unions. Each worker would negotiate his own contract with employers,
instead of forcing all workers to accept the lowest common job-value ranking
and pay .

Plus, unions, with their hierarchical structure (shop stewards, local heads,
national comitteemen, etc.) are inherently and inevitably corrupt, with the
corruption intensifying the farther one rides the union gravy train.

Dionysus















Heh heh...

Rightards...
Post by SilentOtto
Heh heh...
Rightards...
http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/ARAWReports/FreeandFa...
Competitive Elections: Equal Access to Voters
The first prerequisite of a competitive election is allowing
candidates equal access to the list of
potential voters. As a general rule, voter rolls are in the public
domain and available to any citizen.
Specific procedures for getting copies of voter names and addresses
are set by each state or county, but
it is axiomatic that whatever information is available must be
provided to competing candidates on an
equal basis.30
By comparison, labor law denies workers equal access to voter lists.
When workers become interested
in forming a union in their workplace, neither they nor any union with
which they are affiliated can get
a list of potential voters; nor do employees have the legal right
simply to take home a list of coworkers
for use in union organizing. For pro-union employees to obtain a voter
list, they must first get at least 30
percent of their coworkers to sign cards asking the NLRB to sponsor a
vote on unionization.31 Needless
to say, the fact that employees must contact this 30 percent without
any list to work from is a daunting
prospect. If candidates for federal office were required to produce
signed statements of support from 30
percent of eligible voters simply in order to have an election
scheduled — and to collect these statements
without access to a voter list — it is hard to imagine how any
challenger could prevail. Certainly if a
foreign country operated in this manner, we would not hesitate to
denounce this as a sham electoral
system. But it is exactly such a system that U.S. citizens must endure
in workplaces across the country.
Once there is a showing of 30 percent support, the union is entitled
to a list of employee names and
addresses.32 Under federal law, the right to this list is presented as
a guarantee of unions’ ability to
campaign effectively. As the Board has explained,
As a practical matter, an employer, through his … ability to
communicate with employees
on plant premises, is assured of the continuing opportunity to inform
the entire electorate of
his views with respect to union representation. On the other hand,
without a list of employee
names and addresses, a labor organization, whose organizers normally
have no right of access to
plant premises, has no method by which it can be certain of reaching
all the employees with its
arguments in favor of representation, and, as a result, employees are
often completely unaware of
that point of view.33
What is striking here is not the Board’s decision to grant access to
employee lists, but its assumption
that this is sufficient to lay the groundwork for a fair election.
Thus, the Board’s standard is not that
competing parties must have equal opportunity to address voters, but
merely that pro-union employees must have some means of communicating
their message to coworkers.
However, even this goal has proved largely unattainable. To begin
with, the list provided the union
does not include either telephone or email contact information. In
addition, since the law merely requires
employees’ “addresses,” employers often omit details such as apartment
numbers or ZIP codes, further
complicating the work of union organizers.
The absence of phone numbers is particularly damaging in an age when
workers live far apart from
one another and often spend their free time running between kids,
schools, sports, stores, doctors, and
second jobs. The notion that union supporters should simply drive
around, hoping to find workers at
home who would welcome unannounced visitors, is unrealistic. Even
worse, this process is further
restricted by the timetable of NLRB elections. Once employees show 30
percent support for a vote, the
vote should take place within 40 days.34 The employer is not required
to provide a list of eligible voters
until seven days after the union’s showing of support.35 Thus, even
when the system works perfectly,
union activists normally have just over four weeks between first
receiving the voter list and the vote
itself. In this time, union supporters must find a way to reach
perhaps hundreds of coworkers, many of
whom have otherwise received no information about the union drive.36
By contrast, management is free to campaign against the union at any
time and in any part of the
workplace. Indeed, anti-union lawyers specializing in “preventive
labor relations” often recommend
that anti-union communications begin with new employee orientations to
forestall any thought of
organizing.37 Thus, by the time a union first receives the list of
eligible voters, management may have
been plying these same workers with anti-union messages over a period
of years. Again, if we imagine
a congressional election in which one candidate has been running
aggressive attack ads for a period
of years, while the other is prevented from contacting the voters
until four weeks before the election
day, no one would deem this a fair contest. The fact that it ends in a
secret ballot in no way changes the
fundamentally undemocratic nature of such a vote.
Free Speech
The right to free speech stands at the heart of the U.S. system. In
the words of the Supreme Court,
it is “the guardian of our democracy.”38 It goes without saying, of
course, that for free speech to be
meaningful, it must be applied equally to both sides of a debate.
Unfortunately, however, the rules
governing union elections essentially safeguard the free speech rights
of employers while denying
entirely those of employees.
Under federal labor law, management is permitted not only unlimited
reign to voice anti-union
arguments to employees, but also nearly unlimited reign to stifle
employees’ own political speech.
Indeed, one federal commission found that there are upwards of 10,000
cases per year of workers being
punished for engaging in pro-union speech.39 Labor law states that
employees may talk to each other
about the union, or hand out union literature, only when both they and
the person they’re talking to are
on break time and in a break area.40 Outside this narrow window, an
employer may enforce a total ban
on employees talking about the union or distributing union information
anywhere in the workplace,
even if managers themselves are engaged in ongoing anti-union
discussions and distribution of antiunion
literature throughout the workplace.
In political elections, opposing camps as a matter of course are
guaranteed equal speech rights.
Indeed, federal law takes particular care to guarantee that employers
do not create an uneven playing
field within their workplace for political candidates; thus the FEC
bans corporations from inviting one
candidate to address employees without allowing a similar opportunity
for his or her opponent.41 By
contrast, union campaigns are framed by a fundamentally unequal
playing field.
Under law, anti-union managers are free to speak every day — or
multiple times per day — to
every worker. Employers may require individual workers to meet one-on-
one with anyone from the
CEO to their immediate supervisor. In these meetings, the same person
who controls an individual’s
schedule, assigns job duties, approves vacation requests, grants
raises or promotions, and has the power
to terminate employees “at will,” now conveys in the strongest
possible terms the arguments for why
employees should oppose unionization. These meetings are mandatory,
and may be scheduled as
frequently as the company wants, even every day. The only conceivable
way a union might come close
to matching this form of campaigning is by having full-time union
representatives in the workplace who
could speak to employees with the same frequency as supervisors. Yet
under federal labor law, union
organizers have no right to set foot in the workplace.42 As one
management consultant explains,
the employer’s greater opportunity to communicate with its employee,
the virtually complete
access to the minds of voters during working hours, and the control
management can exert
over employees give the employer a considerable advantage over his
union counterparts. The
advantage can legally be utilized to produce a winning vote on
election day.43
In addition to speaking with individual employees in the workplace,
labor law grants employers
the right to require their employees to attend mass anti-union
meetings. These meetings, too, can be
held as often as management chooses, except in the last 24 hours
before a vote.44 The Board has ruled
that employers have “no statutory obligation to accord the employees
the opportunity to speak” at such
meetings.45 Not only is the union not granted equal time, but union
supporters may be banned from
such meetings, or may ...
read more »
Harold Burton
2008-08-12 00:36:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by SilentOtto
Post by SilentOtto
Were it not for the exploitation of flaws in current laws regulating
the formation of unions by those with a vested interest in preventing
unionization, this wouldn't even be an issue.
"Card Check" is a response to the inherent unfairness in the current
law, not something thought up by "Union Thugs" to enhance their
ability to "coerce" workers to form a union, as rightards, like
Dennis, would have one believe.
Perhaps it's not a perfect solution, but in that case perhaps
rightards, like Dennis, who oppose the measure should come up with a
plan of their own that eliminates the inherent inequities in the laws
governing the formation of unions, and render the issue moot.
Of course, rightards, like Dennis, aren't really concerned with
"fairness", their agenda is to destroy all unions and this is just one
of the planks in their anti-union platform.
*************
Ooohhhh...letting workers "vote in secret"....ooohhhh...that's scary.
They can still vote in secret if they want, rightard.
Not if organized labor has its way.

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