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Employee Free Choice Act Hardly Promotes Freedom

An issue that is likely to raise its ugly head next year is the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The bill allows union organizers to skip secret ballot organizing elections and replaces them with a system of publicly signed cards. The privacy of the ballot box protects American workers from threats or retaliation for voting the “wrong” way. Under the Obama-approved Employee Free Choice Act, union organizers – and potentially employers and co-workers – would know exactly who had signed on and who hadn’t, leaving holdouts subject to harassment and threats at home and at the workplace.

Labor groups argue the bill will result in better wages and benefits, but unions don’t help workers get ahead. In actuality, employee prosperity and benefits have increased at the same time union membership has drastically declined. It seems that eliminating secret ballots is just an attempt by the unions to salvage themselves from irrelevance, as unions use their members’ dues to help themselves get ahead.

• For instance, according to the Wall Street Journal, while the average teacher made about $48,000 in 2005, the National Education Association’s president Reg Weaver made $439,000.

• Additionally, the union gave away more than $65 million to “Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups.” In a reverse Robin Hood maneuver, the union bosses seem to be taking from the middle class teachers and giving to their own salaries and left-wing causes.

• More recently, despite the United Auto Workers’ recent claims to need billions of taxpayer dollars for a bailout, the union owns a championship-caliber Black Lake Golf Club for its executives and workers to use. Perhaps while the left wing media was making fun of the auto executives for flying to DC in three separate jets, they should have included in their ridicule the luxurious perks of a championship golf course for the union bosses.

A second, less well known provision of the bill would reduce workers’ choices even more. In normal union contracts, both sides negotiate until they are both satisfied that they can live with the final contract. Under EFCA, however, contract negotiations at newly organized companies go to the government for binding arbitration. There an unaccountable mediator writes a contract that the workers and employer must live by for the next two years. There is no appeal if workers or employers are not happy with the contract. Workers do not get to vote to ratify the contract, and they cannot go on strike. Employers are stuck with the contract, even if they believe it will bankrupt them! In a typical liberal solution, key decisions are given to a government bureaucrat and choice is taken out of the hands of the worker and employer. EFCA gives workers all the downsides of bureaucratic central planning without the upside of a coherent central plan.

For more information on this bill: click here or here.

To view a video on the subject: click here.

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