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View Diary: On the introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (72 comments)

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  •  Fine. (4+ / 0-)

    I just want my secret ballot.

    •  All for a secret ballot that employer is kept (4+ / 0-)

      from influencing. 0% influence.

      Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

      by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 03:56:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A ballot that either side is kept from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CS in AZ

        influencing would be great. Workers should have the right to consider both sides and make a decision without undue pressure.

        The only part of the Act that I have a problem with so far. Otherwise there are some great things inside.

        Wonders are many, but none so wonderful as man.

        by Morgan Sandlin on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:02:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Morgan Sandlin

          I completely agree with this. Well said.

        •  Workers talking amongst themselves (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chrome327, JerichoJ8

          means workers considering all sides.  If there are anti-union workers in the bargaining unit, then they can email the National Right to Work Committee and bring a bunch of their anti-union screeds to meetings with their coworkers.

          Employers, however, should ideally have no say whatsoever in the workers' decision.  The boss isn't going to be in the union, and it's none of his business.  And because the boss has so much power of the workers, any opinion that the boss expresses intrinsically corrupts the workers' ability to make a completely free decision.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:33:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, in any voting processs, both sides (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, Morgan Sandlin

        have a right to make their case. If employers can present a valid reason to vote no on the union, let them do so. The union should also present their case as to why employees should vote to unionize.

        Then, get out of the way and let the employees decide and vote. In private.

        I too feel that having the right to a truly secret ballot, the right to decide independently and to vote for -- or against -- joining a union is very important. Which is why I am not convinced to support EFCA. I asked some questions yesterday about how it supposedly still protects the right to a secret ballot, and the answers were smoke and mirrors.  

        •  If the ballot is the issue (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chrome327, JerichoJ8

          Then card check should not be allowed for decertification either.  As it currently is.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 04:34:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How is the decision made to have an election? n/t (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pesto, CS in AZ, chrome327

          Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

          by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:05:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As it was explained to me yesterday, (0+ / 0-)

            if EFCA passes, the process would be first, the "card check" process to get at least 50% of employees to sign up to unionize. This is not secret or a ballot.

            Then, after this public card check process, if there are employees who want to force a vote, they have to get a petition going and get at least 30% of employees signing the petition, again openly, to require the election.

            If they get the petition signed by the 30%, then there has to be a "secret ballot" election vote where they all vote Yes or No on forming the union.

            Which is pretty laughable at that point. Calling it a 'secret ballot' after all this public process is ridiculous.

            Now, how does it differ from the current process? I don't know, because I don't know the current process either. Is there currently a truly secret ballot on forming a union? Some people seem to imply there isn't, but it's really not clear how EFCA would modify the current process and it may already be just as ridiculous. But this proposed method strikes me as absurd and I don't think it makes sense.

            •  Do you propose a secret ballot to decide on a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CS in AZ

              ballot?

              Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

              by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:38:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL - that's the exact question I asked yesterday (0+ / 0-)

                In Rachel Maddow's segment on EFCA, she said that concerns about the loss of the secret ballot were not valid because "employees can still choose to use the secret ballot if that's what they want" -- so I asked on an open thread yesterday, how does that work? Do they vote on which way to do it? And if so, is that a secret ballot? The above explanation was provided via a link to an article about it and some discussion.

                I wouldn't say I "propose" that solution (I don't have the knowledge of unionizing to propose anything) but from a logical and layman's viewpoint, that would be the only way to truly allow all employees a free and uncoerced choice in the matter.

                •  Maybe the first thing to understand (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CS in AZ, JerichoJ8

                  is that the card-signing process happens, right now, in 100% of union elections.  In every, single one, workers are being asked by other workers, or by union staffers, to sign cards that say, "I __ hereby designate union ABC as my exclusive bargaining representative for purposes of negotiating over wages, hours, and working conditions with my employer, _."

                  That's very, very important.  All the card signing is already happening, every single time.  So if signing cards in this way compromises secrecy and privacy, then the "secret ballot" compromises secrecy and privacy already.

                  Once enough workers have signed cards -- usually well over 50%, since it's pretty crazy to file for an election with less than a majority -- the workers can move forward to the stage of getting the union recognized by the boss and/or officially certified by the Board.

                  Currently, the law says that bosses cannot negotiate with a union that they know represents only a minority of the relevant workers.  That's an important rule to prevent employers from picking company unions to negotiate with.  Employers are legally allowed to recognize a union that they have reason to believe represents a majority of workers, though, even without a Board election.

                  So, if 85 out of 130 workers at a plant sign cards, and present them to the boss, the boss can legally recognize the union they've organized with as their exclusive bargaining agent, and all the legal rights of union members under the law will apply to the workers in that bargaining unit.

                  Again, that choice is entirely up to the employer.  The employer decides whether to respect the workers' decision and recognize the workers' union.  This does happen occasionally, usually as the result of agreements between unions and employers that already have some contracts between them.  But it can and does also happen from time to time on its own.

                  If the boss refuses to recognize the union, however, the union needs to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board demanding an election.  The union hands over the petition form and the cards to the Board to prove that at least 30% of the workers have signed cards, and the process of setting up the election begins.

                  If you're interested, I can describe that process in greater detail.  It can actually be fairly complicated, and is one of the key points at which the boss can start throwing up legal roadblocks and drag things out for months before a vote actually happens.

                  That's usually the point at which the employer hires the union busters, and the war begins.  And it is not a debate over the merits and demerits of collective bargaining.  It's a war between workers who are trying to set build a democratic organization through which they can discuss, determine, and fight for their own interests, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the employer who is trying to destroy that nascent organization.  As the study I quoted above demonstrates, the standard way for employers to "make their case" is to terrorize their own employees and essentially beat them into submission.

                  And incidentally, by the time the actual vote takes place, everyone knows how about 95% of the workers are going to vote.  Pro-union workers are wearing buttons, going to meetings, signing the "We're voting YES!" petition, leafletting a couple times a week, and the anti-union workers are doing none of that, and might even be putting out their own anti-union newsletter.  A Board election is about the least private, "leave me alone to make up my own mind" kind of process imaginable.

                  Majority sign-up won't be a panacea, but it will make it much more difficult for the boss to wait until the workers file for an election and then unleash hell on them to beat them back.  Workers will have much more of an opportunity to make this decision themselves, without the employer sticking their nose in and, inevitably, throwing their weight around to screw with people's decision-making.

                  "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                  by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:18:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pesto

                    I'm out of time to write more now, but wanted to say that this is much more like it and I really appreciate the information and perspective.

                  •  Except (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CS in AZ

                    signing a petition =/= a yes vote. You can sign a petition and then vote no in the ballot box. It doesn't obligate you to vote for something. People can be pressured into signing a petition, but as long as we have a secret ballot, they can't be pressured into voting against their conscience. The EFCA proposes 50% + 1 signatures being the same as 50% + 1 yes votes, and that's not an accurate comparison.

                    To explain the process in simple terms:

                    Unions circulate a petition, if they get at least 30% signatures, submit to NRLB for verification, and if verified, NLRB orders an election, and if a majority votes aye, union is certified. The employer can decide to waive the process and just recognize the union, but it's not the case that the workers are unionized and the employer comes in and says "no you don't." It's quite the contrary. If the employer does nothing at all, an election is held. Only if the employer grants a waiver does the election get bypassed.

                    The problem isn't a secret ballot, the problem is delays, and other things the employer can do, including banning unions from campaigning at the worksite, etc... We can fix those things while preserving the secret ballot. Any election without a secret ballot isn't an election, it's a sham

                    •  Well, thank you also... another good perspective (0+ / 0-)

                      Just as I was saying I was nearly convinced to support it, I saw your comment. Now I am back on the fence. This is such a complicated issue and there is so much rhetoric and heat over it, it seems difficult to get unbiased information.

                    •  "We can do these things..." (0+ / 0-)

                      The problem isn't a secret ballot, the problem is delays, and other things the employer can do, including banning unions from campaigning at the worksite, etc... We can fix those things while preserving the secret ballot.

                      Can you explain how, exactly, to do these things?  Would you propose a law that requires employers to give union organizers access to workers on the employer's property?  There's no way in the world that the Chamber would be okay with that.  Would you try to ban anti-union campaigns, or captive-audience meetings?  It's very, very hard, if not impossible, to make that pass Constitutional muster.

                      As for snap elections, that opens a whole other can of worms...

                      1. Instant elections will inevitably mean lower turnout.  Some people will be out of town; others will be working their 2nd job and not be able to come vote; others just won't find out.  Is a 54-49 secret ballot vote out of 130 employees really more democratic than 75 of those employees signing cards?  If so, why?
                      1. You'd have to make huge changes to labor law doctrine in order to hold an election within a few days:

                      a) Determination of the proper bargaining unit.  Right now, the law says that a bargaining unit needs to be made up of workers who share a "community of interest".  The employer and union can fight a lot about this before an election is set up.  Do all the worksites get grouped together, or are they separate?  If warehouse workers want to organize, do the truck drivers have to be included?  If you want a vote within a day or two, you'll have to change the law to "whatever the union files for".  That would be a huge, huge change.

                      b) Who's a manager?  Managers aren't considered "employees" under the act and can't vote.  Again, with a 48 or 72 hour time line, you don't have time to make decisions about this.  What do you do?  Get rid of the Taft-Hartley ban on managers organizing unions under the Act?   That, again, would be a huge, huge change.

                      b) Who's a "professional" employee?  The Act gives "professionals" the right to vote to be in a different bargaining unit from non-professionals.  Same time-line problems apply here, although getting rid of this law wouldn't be a really major change.

                      c) Which employees actually qualify for the vote?  The boss is required to give the union a list of all the employees eligible to vote (called the Excelsior List) within 7 days of the Board's announcement of the vote.  How do you get a list together within 48 or 72 hours?  How does anyone make sure workers who should get to vote are on the list, and workers who shouldn't aren't?

                      The Board has legitimate reasons for wanting to cross these t's and dot these i's before running an election.  Otherwise, you'll have the balloting and spend months fighting over all these details afterwards (bosses regularly object to election results anyway in order to drag things out, but this would make the problem much, much worse).

                      Any election without a secret ballot isn't an election, it's a sham

                      Not all democratic decisions are made with secret ballot elections.  Putting pieces of paper in a box isn't a principle.

                      The principle we're dealing with here is the right to democratic self-determination.  The status quo does not facilitate the exercise of that right by workers.  Although a snap election system would prevent a good deal of employer abuse, it would create a whole host of new problems that would again interfere with workers' exercising their right to self-determination and self-organization.

                      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                      by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 05:46:41 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes it is (0+ / 0-)

                        Not all democratic decisions are made with secret ballot elections.  Putting pieces of paper in a box isn't a principle.

                        The secret ballot process is a principle. It's the principle that they can make decisions with their own will and conscience and NO ONE can look over their shoulder while doing it. The second someone looks over their shoulder, we don't know if the person is voting their conscience or voting someone else's conscience.

                        Would you propose a law that requires employers to give union organizers access to workers on the employer's property?

                        Yes. I don't care if the Chamber opposes it, they aren't my deity.

                        Instant elections will inevitably mean lower turnout.  Some people will be out of town; others will be working their 2nd job and not be able to come vote; others just won't find out.  Is a 54-49 secret ballot vote out of 130 employees really more democratic than 75 of those employees signing cards?  If so, why?

                        Yes, because we don't know how many employees signed the card because they worried about being ostracized, worried about not being "in," worried about the union taking revenge on them if it succeeded. We don't know how many people signed the cards against their own conscience and will due to external pressure. A secret ballot is inherently better at guaranteeing people vote their will and conscience. What's more democratic: Getting over half of the electorate's signatures on a petition, or the proposition passing in the ballot box with lower turnout than the entire electorate and therefore less "yes" votes than signatures?

                        As far as the other concerns, how would we decide this under EFCA? My answer is do it the same way. On c, the employers should already have a list of who works for them, and make it illegal to give an incomplete list.

                        The solution is more enforcement, harsher penalties, quicker elections, and preserve the secret ballot.

                        Or let's do this instead: Pass the EFCA as is in conjunction with a modified right to work law. Anyone who signs the cards can then be in the union, and anyone who doesn't sign doesn't, AND they would be on their own for everything with the union only speaking on behalf of those who signed

                        •  Democracy and ballots (0+ / 0-)

                          The secret ballot process is a principle. It's the principle that they can make decisions with their own will and conscience and NO ONE can look over their shoulder while doing it. The second someone looks over their shoulder, we don't know if the person is voting their conscience or voting someone else's conscience.

                          I guess we're still living in Great Britain then, since the Declaration of Independence was an illegitimate, non-secret petition.  Who knows how many of the Founding Fathers really opposed independence, but were intimidated by John Adams and John Hancock!

                          People make decisions by putting pieces of paper in boxes for practical reasons:  it's a mechanism for facilitating individuals' right to democratic self-determination.  But people make democratic decisions in other ways, as well -- people vote by show-of-hands at union meetings, for instance, or in collectively-owned businesses.  Is the presidential caucus system democratic?  Was Obama's win in Iowa illegitimate?  New England town meetings typically vote by voice or show of hands, not written ballots -- unless the issue is controversial and the residents decide to defer to a written ballot.

                          So I think a blanket statement that secret ballots are always necessary for democracy, and always better than anyything else, is totally unreasonable.  Decisions are made every day that we consider democratic and that don't use secret ballots.  And conversely, of course, there are lots of examples of secret ballots that have nothing to do with democracy (like elections in the USSR).

                          What's more democratic: Getting over half of the electorate's signatures on a petition, or the proposition passing in the ballot box with lower turnout than the entire electorate and therefore less "yes" votes than signatures?

                          I think the former.  I live in a town of 14,000 people, with, let's say, 6,000 voters (that's just a guess).  If 3,500 of us sign a petition to make a basic change to our town governance -- say, to go to a town manager system or something -- I think it would be perfectly democratic to make that a law based on the signatures.  And I don't think a 1,250-900 secret-ballot vote would be more legitimate than the 3,500 signatures.

                          On unfettered union access:  that's even less likely to happen than majority sign-up.  It's a little like saying, "I oppose cap-and-trade because I really favor nationalization of all industry with full control by workers' councils."  While we're waiting for that, the icecaps melt.

                          Furthermore, access isn't really the key issue:  the issue is the inherently coercive power of the employer's input into the workers' decision.  It's like asking King George about American independence.  It's none of his business.  The union can make a presentation to the workers.  It can't fire anyone, or promise anyone a promotion, or screw with anyone's work schedule.  Only the employer can do that.

                          On the details of the vote:  under a majority sign-up, the delays caused by fighting over the bargaining unit or managerial status don't delay the point at which the workers make their decision.  They come after the decision.  So it doesn't open up an opportunity for the employer to pressure or abuse people.

                          Or let's do this instead: Pass the EFCA as is in conjunction with a modified right to work law. Anyone who signs the cards can then be in the union, and anyone who doesn't sign doesn't, AND they would be on their own for everything with the union only speaking on behalf of those who signed

                          Again, this would involve a massive reworking of American labor law.  The doctrine of "exclusive bargaining agent" was designed to help employers, so that they wouldn't have 7 different unions representing various subsets of their 320 workers.  From their perspective, it's chaos.  I personally think it might not be a bad idea to reconsider this doctrine, but what you're suggesting is basically tearing down 80 years of American labor law (back to the passage of the Railway Labor Act) in order to keep people writing X's on pieces of paper.

                          In any case, that kind of massive revision isn't going to happen.  So if your position is, "I'll support reform of labor law when we force private employers to allow union organizers to wander around their property talking to employees, and when we abandon the doctrine of exclusive bargaining agent," then you're opposing any reform that has any realistic chance of passing in the foreseeable future.

                          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                          by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 04:35:01 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I'll ask you as simply as I can (0+ / 0-)

                            what is it about a secret ballot election that bothers you?

                          •  Why not answer my questions (0+ / 0-)

                            and respond to my points, instead of asking me to repeat myself?

                            I've actually analyzed the situation in great detail here.  If you can't understand my position, read my comment again.  Then try responding to it.

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 09:00:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You have not told me (0+ / 0-)

                            why you think a secret ballot is inherently less democratic than another method

                          •  I never claimed that (0+ / 0-)

                            and I don't need to prove it.  Because I'm not supporting the "ban the secret ballot in every instance of democratic decision-making across the country act".

                            You're claiming that it's inherently more democratic.  You're the one with the absolutist position on secret ballots.

                            I'm claiming that the secret ballot is sometimes the best method, and sometimes not.  I'm claiming that, in the case of workers organizing unions, the workers involved should have the option of using either a secret ballot election, or using majority sign-up.  Just like town hall meetings in New England have that choice.

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:07:37 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes I am (0+ / 0-)

                            The secret ballot is inherently more democratic and it is absolutist to say that. It's inherently more democratic when the individual's will can be expressed free from any threats or bribes. A secret ballot is the only way to know if people signed because they felt they had to or signed because they wanted to

                            Ok, let's have a secret ballot election on whether they will have a secret ballot or majority sign-up. Let people express their own individual preference on this matter and not worry about whether it's "popular." As I have demonstrated, union workers agree with me that the secret ballot is A GOOD THING and not the problem.

                          •  and no (0+ / 0-)

                            I can get behind labor reform law, just not getting rid of the secret ballot. Put removal of the secret ballot in there, and I oppose the bill. Get rid of it, I can consider supporting it

                          •  Which proves you're not serious about this (0+ / 0-)

                            You're just repeating "I need a secret ballot" without (a) analyzing why all sorts of democratically-structured organizations use them in some instances and not others; (b) understanding the actual nature of union elections; (c) acknowledging the incredible abuse workers face from employers in union elections; (d) thinking even for a minute about how American labor law works, and where it's possible to win actual reforms.

                            Since 1936, it's been perfectly legal for unions to be recognized based on either a showing of a majority sign-up, or on a secret-ballot election.  But that choice has belonged to the employer.  All this provision of the Employee Free Choice Act will do is to give the workers the choice, rather than the employers.  The reason to do so is (a) to respect the workers' democratic decision about how to organize, and (b) to prevent the employer from abusing and pressuring the workers during the Board election process.

                            But because you apparently think that no process can ever be democratic unless people drop pieces of paper into a box, you'd evidently counter-propose:

                            1. Abandoning the exclusive bargaining agent doctrine, evidently in favor of an unlimited number of unions in any workplace;
                            1. Holding snap elections, creating big logistical problems that severely compromise the democratic legitimacy of the subsequent election; or, alternately, massively rewriting labor law in order to make the snap elections possible;
                            1. god knows what else you dream up on the spot, based on your very limited understanding of how labor law works and evidently much of anything else related to unions in the real world.

                            Supporting some package of brain-stormed, half-baked notions you riff on is not "considering supporting" labor law reform.  It's putting outrageous, unreasonable, impossible-to-fulfill demands on the reform, because the #1 thing for you seems to be adhering to a rigid idea that democracy=secret ballots, even though it's obvious that there are lots of democratic processes in this country that don't use secret ballots.

                            I think you should either go read and learn about these issues, or try listening to the people who do understand them.  Do you trust President Obama, VP Biden, Hilda Solis, and Human Rights Watch more or less than the US Chamber of Commerce and the GOP?

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 09:17:59 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Not the case (0+ / 0-)

                            It hasn't been "up to the employer." Right now, if the employer does NOTHING, isn't involved, a secret ballot election is held after enough signatures. ONLY if the employer decides to waive the elections does it occur. I don't like that either. I think it should just be signatures then election.

                            I am saying no process can ever be democratic unless if everyone can express their will free of any intimidation, bribery or any other pressure. That's why I support the secret ballot. It's nothing to do with dropping papers in a box. It has everything to do with the fact that people are free to cast their vote with NO ONE looking over their shoulder. In principle, nothing is as democratic as the secret ballot, and we ought to protect workers' access to one. I apply this to every situation, not just unionizing. Secret ballot is inherently the most democratic because it ensures you can vote with NOBODY looking over your shoulder.

                            If a majority of the workers want to unionize, then the union has nothing to fear from them expressing it in private. If the union demands card check and insists on no secret ballot, then the union is admitting that they cannot be approved without putting pressure on the workers to accept it.

                            I think you should either go read and learn about these issues, or try listening to the people who do understand them.  Do you trust President Obama, VP Biden, Hilda Solis, and Human Rights Watch more or less than the US Chamber of Commerce and the GOP?

                            Appeal to authority

                            For the last time, let's pass EFCA without the secret ballot provisions. I'm all for it then and we can do that. Let's not tear down a house because the sink is broken. We should be the party of giving people voices who don't have them, not of silencing those who would speak. I'm with George McGovern, Warren Buffet, Al Sharpton, and 78% of union members (page 4). But, they are not why I oppose it. I am just showing you to give some other Democratic perspectives on why EFCA is a bad idea

                          •  "In every situation" (0+ / 0-)

                            It has everything to do with the fact that people are free to cast their vote with NO ONE looking over their shoulder. In principle, nothing is as democratic as the secret ballot, and we ought to protect workers' access to one. I apply this to every situation, not just unionizing.

                            So, just to go back to an earlier example:  your position is that the Declaration of Independence was illegitimate, and we still live in Great Britain.  Glad to have that cleared up then.

                            Let's not tear down a house because the sink is broken.

                            EFCA proposes a minor change in who gets to use majority-sign up to organize a union.  You've proposed banning voluntary recognition of the union by the employer, and abandoning the exclusive bargaining agent doctrine, and doing god knows what else to the definition of a proper bargaining unit.  Your proposal involves far, far more changes to labor law than Employee Free Choice.

                            And I'd add that if you think the status quo WRT union organizing and worker rights is the equivalent of "the sink [being] broken," then it's clear that you're really just on this kick because you don't take workers' rights seriously.

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:14:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No (0+ / 0-)

                            do you seriously need me to explain how the DOI is completely different?

                            The right to work proposal was sarcasm. I propose the EFCA minus the card check, and no, card check is not a minor change. It's a major change to treat majority signatures as yes votes. They are not the same thing. We can be pressured into signing cards as it's done out in the open. We can't be pressured into voting a certain way in the ballot box because no one can see our vote. They are completely different

                            The status quo, even if not just s sink, is not enough to justify tearing down the entire house

                          •  Humor me (0+ / 0-)

                            do you seriously need me to explain how the DOI is completely different?

                            If only so that you'd actually reply to even one of the arguments I've made.

                            It's a major change to treat majority signatures as yes votes.

                            Except that, as I've said many times already, it's been perfectly legal to do exactly that for over 70 years!!

                            Frankly, you sound a lot like John Cleese in The Argument Clinic.  Lazily repeating "Secretballotsecretballotsecretballot" is easier than thinking, I gues.

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 04:30:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I've responded (0+ / 0-)

                            to many of your arguments. But I digress. The DOI is completely different because they were together for the same reason and desired the same thing for America. Thomas Jefferson's writing was simply an expression of the entire group's thoughts and what they desired to do. It was the issue that brought them together in the first place so of course they all signed it. They did not happen to be in the same place at the same time as is the case with working. They are not all there because they want to be in a union, or a particular union. They are all there for a plethora of reasons.

                            I don't care about major or minor change. We should never have a system of equating signatures as yes votes. I don't know how many times I can say it, if a signature is a vote, then your vote is subject to judgment from others. Not so with a secret ballot

                          •  Your description of the DOI (0+ / 0-)

                            sounds just like a union!

                            The DOI is completely different because they were together for the same reason and desired the same thing for America. Thomas Jefferson's writing was simply an expression of the entire group's thoughts and what they desired to do.

                            (There was never a secret ballot.  How do you know what any of them wanted?)

                            When workers sign a petition saying, "We, the undersigned, choose ABC union as our exclusive bargaining agent for purposes of representing us and negotiating over wages, hours and working conditions with XYZ company..." they're doing exactly the same thing.  Signing their names to a statement that represents their collective decision.

                            It was the issue that brought them together in the first place so of course they all signed it.

                            Which is different from workers forming a union exactly how?

                            They did not happen to be in the same place at the same time as is the case with working. They are not all there because they want to be in a union, or a particular union. They are all there for a plethora of reasons.

                            The Founders happened to be in America just like the workers happen to be at a particular workplace.  The Founders got together because they wanted to figure out how to deal with problems they were having with the King, just like workers get together amongst themselves to discuss problems they're having with their employer.  After debating different ways of dealing with these problems, including just sending a letter asking the King to be nicer, they finally decided that they'd had enough and that the only way to solve their problems was to declare the founding of a new Union -- in the case of the Founding Fathers, "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States."

                            I'm going to quote you to yourself here, comments you've made on this very thread:  

                            "You can sign a petition and then vote no in the ballot box. It doesn't obligate you to vote for something. People can be pressured into signing a petition, but as long as we have a secret ballot, they can't be pressured into voting against their conscience."

                            "We don't know how many people signed the cards against their own conscience and will due to external pressure.  A secret ballot is inherently better at guaranteeing people vote their will and conscience."

                            "The secret ballot is inherently more democratic and it is absolutist to say that. It's inherently more democratic when the individual's will can be expressed free from any threats or bribes. A secret ballot is the only way to know if people signed because they felt they had to or signed because they wanted to"

                            And, right after saying that the DIO was "an expression of the entire group's thoughts and what they desired to do," you say,

                            "I don't know how many times I can say it, if a signature is a vote, then your vote is subject to judgment from others. Not so with a secret ballot"

                            But only when you're forming a union.  When you're declaring independence from Great Britain, it's different.  Because the Founding Fathers were magically impervious to each other's influence and pressure.  Or something.

                            If you really believed all of that stuff about the unique, irreplaceable sanctity of the secret ballot, you'd also believe that the DOI was illegitimate, along with New England Town Halls -- which predate our nation's founding, and which De Toqueville considered one of the wellsprings of American democracy -- and the Iowa caucuses.  How many of the Founding Fathers were worried about John Adams or Patrick Henry or John Hancock or John Witherspoon "taking revenge" on them, or refusing to do business with them in the future?  How many of them violated their conscience, and were coerced to sign?  

                            And the King never got to give his side of the story!  How undemocratic was that!

                            The "principles" you're defending here are not principles you really believe in -- you have no coherent way of applying them to all instances, without pretending to be outraged by processes (the DIO, town halls, caucuses) that, it seems to me, you've never ever had any problem with.

                            You only have a problem with open petitioning/voting systems when it's workers organizing unions.  Which says to me that it's the fact of the workers organizing that you object to, not the means they use to establish the will of the majority.

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 06:05:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nothing I have said (0+ / 0-)

                            implies I wouldn't have preferred a secret ballot in the DOI case, but the fundamental difference is they were men who got together BECAUSE of their desire for independence. I fail to see what repercussions from each other any individual would have faced if they did not sign it. As well, a signature was not a vote and was not treated like one. Whether one person signed it or 50 people signed it, the only difference was the loudness of the message, not anything else.

                            Being at a workplace does not in and of itself mean a desire for unionization. With card check, a signature actually has a binding tangible effect. Whether someone signed it due to pressure or due to makes no difference to the result.

                            I have a problem with open petitioning/voting systems period. I don't support your accepted idea of majority signing a petition and the initiative automatically becomes law. You do. I don't like caucuses or any of the sort. I don't believe card check accurately establishes the will of the majority. There's a reason the unions are demanding card check. They've been acknowledged before, that to have a better chance of winning than not, 75% of the workforce has to sign a card. No wonder they want to reduce it to 50%, no wonder they fear the secret ballot. Because they know that they have a better chance when they are able to pressure people into signing while they can't pressure anyone to vote against their conscience in private

                          •  and if it's been legal for (0+ / 0-)

                            over 70 years, then we wouldn't need a new law to do exactly that.

                          •  Good god, TSC, read what I've written, please! (0+ / 0-)

                            For, I think, the third time:

                            Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, it is illegal for an employer to recognize a union without proof of majority support by the workers, and it is legal for an employer to recognize a union without any secret ballot election at all as long as the workers provide proof of majority support for the union (almost always in the form of cards or petitions, but very rarely in the form of a recognition strike).

                            But the employer is not required to recognize a union without a Board-run election, even if 100% of the workers sign cards and 100% of them show up in his office saying, "We've decided to form a union."

                            We need a new law so that it will be the employees, not the employer, who decides whether signing cards is enough to create the union.

                            Right now, the employer chooses.  We want the employees to choose.

                            Employee.
                            Free.
                            Choice.

                            Would it help if I explained this IN ALL CAPS?

                            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                            by Pesto on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 05:24:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So (0+ / 0-)

                            You're damn right, the employer isn't required to recognize a union absent an election. It's not a matter of them showing up and saying "we're unionized" and he imposes on them saying "no you don't." The only intervention an employer can have in this is give permission to bypass the election. If they don't alert him and he does nothing, they aren't unionized without an election.

                            Again, let them vote by secret ballot on whether they think signing cards is enough. If signing cards wins in that case, fine. It's clear the union already has enough support or workers don't mind being pressured into signing, and an election would just be a waste of time. But if a secret ballot election wins, which it usually will according to polls (workers overwhelmingly agree preserving the secret ballot is part of the solution, not the problem), then they have to have a secret ballot.

                  •  Ok, I'm almost convinced (0+ / 0-)

                    I've been thinking about this and, given that there already is effectively no secret ballot anyway, I'm now inclined to support EFCA. Your post made the case. Not that I think it's a total or great solution, but it does seem like a step in the right direction.

                    I think the entire process as it currently works sounds ghastly, from the point of view of pretty much everyone involved.

                    But does EFCA really solve all these problems?

                    Is its ONLY proposed change that employers would have to recognize the card check? Everything else remains the same? Or does this law also do anything else to improve the process?

                    How is it going to stop employers from attempting to threaten and frighten people into not signing the cards? Or taking actions against organizers? Is it just that it will give them less time to mobilize opposition?

                    At this point I'm leaning towards supporting EFCA as a good step toward equalizing the playing field, but far from a complete or ideal solution to the problems.

                    Really just understanding that card checking already happens, and there's no effective secret ballot in the current laws anyway, is all one needs to know to realize that there's probably nothing to be lost in supporting it.

                    This would have been a FAR better explanation of EFCA than what the front page featured yesterday, the post headlined "Rachel Maddow Explains EFCA" where the sum total of her answer to the secret ballot concerns was "employees can still choose the secret ballot if they want one" which she repeated numerous times, as if that explains it all.

                    So I asked, in the thread under that article, how was this choosing by employees to work? When it was explained how this so-called secret ballot process was supposed to work, it comes off as absurd.

                    If Rachel had just explained the actual facts, as you did here, and said that there is no real secrecy to the ballot anyway, then it would have been a worthwhile report and perhaps the posting would have helped to actually explained EFCA as the headline claimed.

                    As it stands, I'm very disappointed in Rachel Maddow for offering up such crappy explanation of this, and I have to say that particular the front page article was not helpful in understanding this issue. There may have been other, better ones, but I don't read here constantly to see every article and diary, and I don't have time to fully research on my own every topic that comes up. Which is why I appreciate folks like you who do take the time to answer questions in the comments. This is what makes this site a great resource.

                    Thanks again!

                    •  Other elements of EFCA (0+ / 0-)

                      The Employee Free Choice Act would also:

                      1. Introduce, for the first time, actual fines for committing unfair labor practices (that is, breaking the rules in the National Labor Relations Act).  Under current law, an employer who is found to have committed a ULP has to 1) restore the status quo ante, and 2) post a notice saying, "We committed an unfair labor practice by____ and we won't do it again."  The Employee Free Choice Act will introduce the possibility of fines of up to $20,000, based on the gravity of the ULP and the impact on workers trying to organize.
                      1. Introduce, for the first time, compensatory damages paid to workers who've been fired.  Under current law, if the Board finds you were fired illegally (a process that usually takes months, sometimes years, to conclude), the Board orders your employer to give you your job back (won't that be fun!) and to pay you backpay, minus anything you've earned in the interim (including unemployment compensation), and, in a recent decision, minus any money you should have been earning if you'd been trying actively to get a job.  The Employee Free Choice Act will introduce back-pay-times-3 for firings that occur in the context of a union campaign.
                      1. The Employee Free Choice Act would also allow unions to seek injunctions from Federal court to stop employers from flagrantly violating the law -- right now, employers can do this (e.g., getting an injunction to limit picketing), but unions can't.

                      The whole text of the bill is here, though you need to remember that most of it is additions and edits to the National Labor Relations Act, not a complete, new labor law from the ground up.

                      Now, these changes are designed to deter employer abuse, and I think they'd be a significant help.  "So," you might ask, "why not just rely on increased penalties to clean up the process, and leave the certification system as is?"  Good question.

                      The concern is that the Board only behaves reactively, and once people have been intimidated, fired, etc, even if all the king's horses and all the king's men show up, Humpty Dumpty -- the nascent union -- is gonna stay broken.  So the penalties need to be really, really severe to tamp down the level of abuse that's become standard practice for employers (remember, workers were fired illegally in over 30% of union elections in 2007, and overall over 25% of elections since 2000), otherwise ULPs will still be just a "cost of business".

                      Furthermore, there is a real principle at stake here:  once a group of workers decides to form a union, they've made their decision, and we should respect it.  No one thinks that the Declaration of Independence was invalid because the King didn't get to hold meetings with the Founding Fathers before they signed, or because there wasn't secret ballot election 2 months later.  The Founding Fathers got together, discussed the matter amongst themselves, and came to a decision -- signing a public petition that brought their new nation into being.  If a group of workers want to sign cards or a petition to bring their new union into being, they should have the right to do that.

                      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                      by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 06:52:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  No - the employers have an opportunity day in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pesto, chrome327

          and out to make their case. They don't need special targeted opportunities.

          Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

          by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:06:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Employers have far too much coercive power (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chrome327

          for their "case" to be fair in any true sense.  If you think the boss and the workers in a union campaign are comparable to the GOP and Democrats in an electoral campaign, you really misunderstand the situation completely.

          Voting by putting pieces of paper into a box is not some kind of holy rite.  It's a mechanism for facilitating democratic self-determination.  If that mechanism fails, as it has done in the case of NLRB elections, then we need to find a mechanism that works -- and majority sign-up has been working, in Canada and the US, for decades.

          But if you're determined to prevent a majority of employees from having a union even when they've decided to organize one, and you oppose EFCA, could you tell us what you'd suggest as an alternative reform?

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:47:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope, I have no idea, and I'm not determined to (0+ / 0-)

            "prevent a majority of employees from having a union even when they've decided to organize one"

            Where did you get that? It is entirely off base from what I said. This is exactly the same thing that happened yesterday. It seems that those who want this law passed have absolutely no respect for anyone who questions it in any way, and will not answer questions reasonably or honestly. This is very frustrating.

            I also didn't say I "oppose" EFCA, I said I have not been convince to support it, because it has not been explained in a reasonable manner and questions are not answered to address valid concerns that people have who may not be familiar with what it all means. People throw lingo at you like certification and decertification, like you're expected to know all about what this means. I don't. But it seems as if everyone is expected to automatically be on board with this, regardless.

            No I don't have a proposal for reform. I don't even know that there is any need for reform, because no case has been made for why it is needed. There are just blanket statements about how it must be made easier to unionize, as if this is automatically for the best. But no one says why this is true, with any actual data or information. I don't work in a unionized field and I have no personal connection to or experience with unions, except when they go on strike which usually effects my life in some negative way. Do they really benefit workers? I think sometimes yes and sometimes no, but there are definite drawbacks to it also. During the screen writer's strike, thousands of nonunion workers lost their jobs as shows went dark, and they got nothing out of it. Unions are not holy or above questioning.

            You all who wish to make the case to get people to support this law ought to realize that just being arrogant about it and suggesting that one doesn't need to understand the situation, just believe us it is best, any other views are wrong and any concerns are not valid, so don't even ask, is not convincing.  

            •  If I come off as pissy I apologize (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linnaeus, CS in AZ

              but my impression of these discussions is that a lot of people who (a) don't know labor law at all, and (b) don't have any experience in or around union elections (which isn't unusual in a country where about 90% of workers aren't organized) tend to make blanket statements about how we need to have secret ballots, and how that has to be preserved at all costs -- without understanding how the status quo works at all, without offering any suggestions for alternative plans, and also, I might add, without asking questions.  Which strikes me as somewhat arrogant, incidentally.

              As for information about this, there have been 4 or 5 frontpage posts about Employee Free Choice this week, along with lots and lots of diaries.  If you want to learn more, you could start with them.

              People throw lingo at you like certification and decertification, like you're expected to know all about what this means.

              Then ask what they mean.  "Certification" is the term used by the Board for officially, legally recognizing that a union represents a particular group of employees (called a "bargaining unit").  "Decertification" is the term for recognizing that the employees have un-elected the union in a Board election.  Employers, BTW, are allowed legally to stop dealing with the union at all if union membership in a particular bargaining unit falls below 50% of the workers -- a decertification card-check.

              I don't even know that there is any need for reform, because no case has been made for why it is needed. There are just blanket statements about how it must be made easier to unionize, as if this is automatically for the best. But no one says why this is true, with any actual data or information.

              Here is the data, a study that was released a couple of weeks ago (this was diaried, and IIRC, front-paged at the time as well) that found:

              Since 2000, illegal firings have  marred over one-in-four NLRB-sponsored union elections, reaching 30 percent of elections in 2007.

              And that only counts actual firings, not threats of firings, or putting someone on graveyard shift as punishment, or cutting their hours, or threatening to close and never bargain with a union, etc.  Those are all technically illegal, too, and also very common.

              The basic point is that people have a right to democratic self-determination -- the right to participate democratically in decision that directly affect them.  That's the reason we live in a democracy.  At work, the way you have that voice is by organizing a union.  The secret ballot is a mechanism for facilitating the exercise of that right.  If it doesn't work -- and the above study provides very strong evidence that it doesn't -- then we need to find another mechanism that workers can choose to use.

              I don't work in a unionized field and I have no personal connection to or experience with unions, except when they go on strike which usually effects my life in some negative way. Do they really benefit workers?

              1. Generally, yes.  Corporations have enormous power in modern, capitalist societies, and the most direct check on their power is an organized working class.  
              1. When you and your coworkers consider joining a union, it'll be up to you and them to decide whether it serves your personal and collective interests.  When other workers are considering it, it should be up to them.  They should make the decision when it's their turn, and you should when it's your turn.  Your boss should butt out in every case.  

              "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

              by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 06:47:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I DID ask questions, although that was yesterday (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linnaeus, Pesto

                in the open thread. But I said that I didn't understand how the status quo works, and that I didn't have any background it labor laws and was asking what I feel are reasonable questions about how this would work. What I got in response was not helpful, it was just a brush off.

                I appreciate your providing more information. I will follow your links and see what it says.

                I would like to answer this one sentence though:

                At work, the way you have that voice is by organizing a union.

                At my work, the way I have a voice is by working with my direct manager at my annual reviews and on an ongoing basis, doing my job well and being a valuable employee whom they reward accordingly. I do not feel my employers are against me. But I work in a nonprofit human services organization, with a board and upper management who are good people, so that could have something to do with why I don't feel an adversarial relationship with them. I love my job and am quite happy with my compensation and how I'm treated at work, sans union.

                Anyway, yes you are right that people who don't know the ins and out probably assume (as I do) that a secret ballot is best. I maintain that those who want to advocate for change carry the burden of opening the conversation by explaining why the change is needed, instead of expecting those who don't know the subject intimately to have an automatic acceptance of it.

                •  Just a quick point here (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Pesto, CS in AZ

                  At my work, the way I have a voice is by working with my direct manager at my annual reviews and on an ongoing basis, doing my job well and being a valuable employee whom they reward accordingly. I do not feel my employers are against me. But I work in a nonprofit human services organization, with a board and upper management who are good people, so that could have something to do with why I don't feel an adversarial relationship with them. I love my job and am quite happy with my compensation and how I'm treated at work, sans union.

                  It's a common perception that people who advocate for unions in their workplaces don't like their jobs or their bosses - I'm not saying that you are saying this, but your paragraph kinda got me thinking - but that's not necessarily true.

                  I, for one, like doing what I do and I by and large get along with those who supervise me.  But even the best supervisors can make mistakes and the worst can be outright malevolent.  Furthermore, there are issues of how power is distributed in the workplace.  A lot of the decisions about the conditions of my employment aren't made by the people to whom I directly report.  And the people who do make those decisions may do so in a way that affects me adversely.  They may be fine people, but people who do something that needs to be countered by another voice to make sure that people are treated as fairly and justly in the workplace as possible.  My union really helps that.

                  Your workplace may work in a healthy manner as it is.  I'm glad for that, and I hope it continues.

                  Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                  by Linnaeus on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:28:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It does come off that way (0+ / 0-)

                    The advocates for EFCA and unions do pretty much all seem to paint the employer as inherently evil and at odds with the workers.

                    I tend to view employment more as a mutually beneficial arrangement, with both sides having their own best interests at heart, but both also needing the other in order for either so succeed.

                    I understand that things are not always fair and my direct boss would pay me more if she could.

                    But what I don't like about union (the idea of it) is that there is no reward for high performance. Everyone gets paid the same, whether they are top notch or lazy as hell. And my husband says that when he used to work under a union (heavy equipment operators, many years ago) they favored seniority over competence in determining who to call first for work. They also could force people to go on strike when they could not afford to be out of work. I don't see unions as an all good or all bad thing. I see pros and cons to both, I suppose.

                    Anyway, thank you for the sincere discussion. I appreciate it.

                    •  Pay an unions (0+ / 0-)

                      But what I don't like about union (the idea of it) is that there is no reward for high performance. Everyone gets paid the same, whether they are top notch or lazy as hell.

                      If you and your coworkers don't want a pay-scale, then don't agree to a contract that has one.

                      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                      by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 05:24:07 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  I'm sorry your questions weren't answered (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Linnaeus, CS in AZ

                  As you can see, some of the answers are pretty involved.  The Board process is pretty complicated, and employers over the years have developed lots and lots of ways to game the system to slow down the process and frustrate workers who want to organize.  A simple question like, "How does it work now?" can actually demand a pretty complex answer.

                  As for your personal work situation, it's great that your opinion is sought and respected and that you and your supervisors trust each other.  I'd guess that you realize that it's not that way everywhere.  Organizing a union takes a lot of work, and no one in the real world does it for trivial or ideological reasons.  By the time workers start to talk amongst themselves about it, and certainly by the time they get in touch with a few unions to discuss their situation, they've got to have some really strong reasons for spending as much time and energy as it takes, and for risking their livelihoods.  It could have to do with unfair discipline/favoritism, or pay, or health insurance, or a change to the pension, or safety issues, or some combination of them.  But no one does this without having a really strong motivation to do it.

                  I would say, though, that some of your interests are not exclusive to you -- you and your coworkers are all interested in your health insurance coverage, and maybe in the agency's policy about posting job openings.  And to the extent that you and your coworkers are in the same boat together, it's not a bad thing if you guys get together to discuss your shared interests and figure out if you have any consensus positions you'd like to bring to your supervisors.  And if you do that, your acting as a union, and, in fact, exercising legal rights that you have as employees under the Nation Labor Relations Act.

                  I'm certainly not saying, "CS in AZ needs to talk with his/her coworkers about this stuff ASAP!!"  I'm saying that you should be absolutely free to do so.  But in far too many workplaces, people don't have that freedom.  Lots of workplaces even have rules forbidding employees to discuss their salaries with each other (a rule that's illegal under the National Labor Relations Act, but since the penalty for breaking the law is that the boss needs to post a notice at work saying, "We broke the law.  Sorry.  Won't happen again.", there's not much incentive to shape up).

                  Last comment here, on people expecting automatic acceptance.  Yes, folks need to make a case, I agree.  But (a) people who aren't familiar with the specifics should probably ask/read/do research before making absolutist statements about voting procedures, and (b) if the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, every industry group, and the GOP are on one side of an issue, and Labor, human rights groups, and the vast majority of Democrats supports it...then you should probably be favorably inclined towards supporting it.

                  "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

                  by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:41:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think it's arrogance, but... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pesto, CS in AZ

              I can understand why people who feel strongly about this issue can be a little off-putting, but I don't think it's intended in any way to alienate people or dismiss valid concerns.  When you're passionate about a certain issue, you can appear as somewhat overzealous to someone who is less interested or has less experience with that issue.  I'm sure you've been on both sides of that scenario.

              If I've ever come across as arrogant or dismissive in anything I've said about labor issues (or anything else for that matter), I apologize.  I've done organizing work, and one thing "they" tell you when you do your training is that it's most important to listen and respond to what the other person has to say.  It's always a learning process to do that.

              Regarding the lingo, as Pesto says, just ask.  I've been on Daily Kos a long time, and it's not unusual to have conversations in which a certain level of familiarity with terms and is assumed, especially when the conversations are dealing with really substantive elements of whatever issue or problem is being discussed.  So, if I've assumed too much, just say so.

              As for whether or not unions benefit workers, I believe very strongly that on the whole, they do.  That doesn't mean, of course, that they don't have problems or that they don't make mistakes.  Like any institution created by humans, unions will exhibit human flaws.  But I can say in my own experience that it's been a definite benefit, and our union has pretty high membership and pretty strong support from the people we represent.  I won't go into any stories now, but I'd be happy to tell some if you ever want to hear.

              I do appreciate your being willing to listen.

              Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

              by Linnaeus on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 07:18:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You're confusing (0+ / 0-)

            something that's failing intrinsically and something that's failing circumstantially. The process hasn't been working right now not because the secret ballot is inherently doomed to fail, it's failing because of the excessive rights given to employers leading up to the elections. We can change that, while preserving workers' rights to express their view in the privacy of a booth free of intimidation and bribery

            Card check works in Canada? Explain how. Doing things right is not doing right things

            What do I propose? Everything in EFCA except removing the secret ballot. And, have the time difference between verification of signatures and an election taking place be days instead of months or years.

        •  Because it doesn't (0+ / 0-)

          EFCA doesn't protect a secret ballot. Currently, if at least 30% of employees sign a card, the NLRB orders an election. Under EFCA, that would remain, except if they get 50% + 1 or more signatures, the election is bypassed and the NLRB just certifies the union. Elections would become the appendix of union certification: there, but no impact and never used for anything. No union is going to waste time filing for an election if they have over 30% of signatures but less than 50%.

          Get rid of the card check provisions, and I'm all for EFCA

    •  I just want workers to have democratic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrome327, JerichoJ8

      self-determination.

      If the "secret ballot" doesn't provide that, then workers have an absolute right to have another system.

      And unless you're proposing an alternative to the status quo and EFCA, then I don't take your support for workers seriously at all.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:30:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Again (0+ / 0-)

        the secret ballot is not intrinsically undemocratic like you're making it out to be. The secret ballot is intrinsically democratic, but certain circumstances may undermine that and that's what we need to change. Card check is intrinsically undemocratic because it violates a basic principle of democracy and how the majority will gets decided: by each individual with no pressure from any external source. Once individuals make decisions based on pressure, they are not expressing their own will, they are expressing someone else's will.

        •  There is no perfect, pure system (0+ / 0-)

          of expressing preference without any pressure whatsoever.  We're talking about human institutions here.  The standard shouldn't, IMHO, be, "Is majority-signup perfect?" but, (a) "Is it less compromised than secret-ballot elections in the context of a group of workers deciding to organize a union?" and (b) "Who should make the decision about the most appropriate and democratic process in a particular instance?"

          I think majority-signup exposes workers to much less pressure than the Board election system, primarily because the employer's status as the employer makes their "opinion" a corrupting influence on the vote.  And, in any case, right now it's perfectly legal for a union to become a legal representative of the employees without a vote -- it's just that the employer decides whether that's appropriate.  I think the workers are the ones who should make that call, and that's what the Employee Free Choice Act does -- lets the workers themselves decide which process to use.

          As to how they make that choice, the NLRA gives the Board broad powers in making rules to execute the law, and the Employee Free Choice Act directs that:

               

          (7) The Board shall develop guidelines and procedures for the designation by employees of a bargaining representative in the manner described in paragraph (6). Such guidelines and procedures shall include--

                     `(A) model collective bargaining authorization language that may be used for purposes of making the designations described in paragraph (6); and

                     `(B) procedures to be used by the Board to establish the validity of signed authorizations designating bargaining representatives.'

          There's a standard form for filing for any kind of election with the Board -- you check a box on the form to indicate whether it's a representation election filed by the Union, or a decertification election, or a unit clarification petition (e.g., the employer creates a new classification of jobs and the union thinks they belong in an extant bargaining unit), or whatever.  I think the Board will just add a new box to that form, called "Majority Certification" or something.  Check that, and they'll do the majority-signup card check.  Check the RU box (I think that's the right one!), and they'll set up an election like they've always done.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 07:03:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No system is perfect (0+ / 0-)

            I couldn't agree with you more. So let's stop trying to make a system better? The secret ballot is inherently the least pressure, circumstances may alter that but let's change the circumstances while still going with the method that provides least pressure

    •  What if 51% of the employees don't want a secret (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pesto, chrome327

      ballot?

      Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

      by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 05:36:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm guessing you're asking (0+ / 0-)

        in principle, as EFCA doesn't address whether employees want a secret ballot. To that I say, so what? Since when do we have mob rule?

        •  It's not mob rule. It's a process that is (0+ / 0-)

          determined by direct employee participation. If someone wants a secret ballot they don't have to sign the card. If you don't like being in a union, too bad. Maybe they don't like not being in one.  

          50+1 is the rule. Why prolong the process?

          What's fair about stretching it out and making the process vulnerable to employer coercion?  

          Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

          by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:29:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As I can only say so many times (0+ / 0-)

            Signing a petition is not a yes vote. 50% + 1 in the ballot box is different from 50% + 1 signing cards. One of them is done out in the open where everyone can see your vote, people can take it out on you, ostracize you, and the union can take it out on you as well. With a secret ballot, no one knows how you voted, and no one can be pressured into voting for a union they don't want. If the union isn't so worried about its value and what it has to offer, it has nothing to fear from a secret ballot election.

            You're engaging in false dilemma. Let's make it so the election happens as soon as possible after signature verification. I'm all for that, as long as people can express their own conscience and will free of external pressure.

            Unless you want to say that if an initiative gets over 50% of the electorate's signatures, it automatically becomes law with no election. Would you be in favor of that?

        •  Maybe factory farms would be safer with unions (0+ / 0-)

          cleaner and more hygienic.

          Stronger workforces can stand up for what is right.

          Perhaps, you're an employer.

          Single Payer Demonstration - 5/12 - Nightingale's Birthday

          by JerichoJ8 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 11:31:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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