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

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  •  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

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    •  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

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        •  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

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            •  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

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                •  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.

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