Wicker Says Workers’ Rights Attacked By Misguided Legislation

So-Called “Employee Free Choice Act” Would Strip the Right to Secret Ballot Union Elections

August 25, 2008

The right to a secret ballot has always been a cornerstone of American democracy.  Whether voting in a local school board election or for our nation’s commander in chief, the secret ballot has long been recognized as the best way for individuals to express their will in privacy and free from outside intimidation. 

Unfortunately for American workers, the right to a secret ballot is under attack.  Legislation in Congress, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, would strip workers of their fundamental right to a secret ballot when voting to form a union.  The misguided bill would allow union organizers to ask workers to sign their ballot cards in public – a process known as “card-check.”  Doing so would put workers at greater risk of intimidation and coercion at the workplace, and would end their right to secret ballot elections.

                                       PRIVACY RIGHTS NEEDED
Under current law, the most common method for employees to determine whether or not they want to unionize is to have a federally supervised private ballot election.  Under the close watch of the National Labor Relations Review Board, workers are able to vote confidentially at the end of an established process that allows labor officials to make their case to workers and ask for their support in unionizing. 

Now, in the face of decades of declines in union membership numbers, organized labor is pushing to change the rules governing workplace elections.  By pushing the Employee Free Choice Act, Big Labor is trying to scrap the secret ballot system and replace it with a card-check process in hopes of increasing union membership.  Unfortunately for America’s workers, this change in election rules would trample their privacy rights by taking federally protected private ballots from their hands.  

                               SUPPORT FOR SECRET BALLOTS
With strong support, Americans believe workers should be given the right to a federally supervised private ballot election when deciding whether to organize a union.  In a recent survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, 87 percent of the public said they wanted to preserve the right to federally supervised private ballot workplace elections. 

Opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act and its card-check election process can be found across the country, from Republicans and Democrats alike.  Earlier this month, one-time Democratic nominee for president George McGovern called this legislation “disturbing and undemocratic.”  Public opinion is clear on this issue, and it would be wrong for Washington to circumvent the public’s will and workers’ rights in an attempt to appease organized labor officials.

                                       FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS
I believe American workers should continue to enjoy the right to organize and join a union.  When choosing to do so, however, they should not be stripped of their right to a secret ballot.  At a time when our country is determined to support free and fair elections around the world, it makes no sense to restrict workplace elections here at home by eliminating private ballot elections.  I will continue to support workers’ rights, which is why I will not support this misguided legislation in the Senate.