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Ironically placed on MSNBC during Countdown, the ad, created by the even more ironically named Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, depicts stereotypically overbearing labor unionists encroaching on a worker casting his ballot in an old-fashioned mechanical voting booth:

V/O: Today when workers vote on having a union in their workplace, they use a secret ballot. But a new law could change all that.

BEEFY UNION THUG: How you doin'?

WORKER: Who are you?

BEEFY UNION THUG: Whaddya got there?

WORKER: My secret ballot.

BEEFY UNION THUG: Ho! Not anymore, it ain't. [snaps fingers, voting booth disappears, various sketchy characters look on in background]

WORKER: I-- Who are--

V/O: Under a card check law, workers would just sign a card . . . and everybody would know how they voted. Tell the candidates to protect worker privacy.


Members of the "Coalition" comprise a company of labor-hostile industry associations and chambers of commerce. This is not a grassroots campaign. This is pure astroturf.

The ad directs viewers to, which features, in addition to the list of coalition members linked above, a number of "fact sheets" about card check. These include statements such as the following:

Currently, the most common method for determining whether or not employees
want a union to represent them is a private ballot election overseen by the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB provides detailed procedures that
ensure a fair election, free of fraud, where employees may cast their vote
confidentially without peer pressure or coercion from unions or employers.
bosses, however, find private ballot elections to be an impediment to unionization.
They prefer the card check process, where employees are forced to cast their vote
in front of union organizers and fellow employees who support unionization.
[emphasis mine]

I'll let Firedoglake take this one: "The NLRB process takes so long, is so tilted in favor of employers and has such weak remedies, it actually encourages managers to harass, intimidate and even fire employees. It’s illegal, but 25 percent of private-sector employers fire workers who try to form a union. And many more threaten workers with closings, layoffs and outsourcing."

In July 2002 testimony before a House
Subcommittee, an employee described the various misrepresentations and coercive
tactics used by union organizers in card check elections: Those who would not sign
were greeted with threats of termination, deportation and loss of 401(k) and health
benefits; and those who did sign were given promises of green cards, termination
of supervisors, and free food.

Aside from the insulting implication that workers' interests can be bought off with chicken wings, the cited "employee" who testified before the subcommittee was Daniel V. Yager, who works for . . . the HR Policy Association . . . as senior vice president! We're not talking some average joe from the stockroom floor.

While both the employer and the union are present for the election, they are simply
observers of the process,
and may not speak with the voters or see how a particular
employee votes. Elections are held promptly, typically within 60 days of the
and contrary to concerns regarding the unions’ ability to succeed in
private ballot elections, unions won 56% of elections in 2005.

Maybe employers only observe during the election, but what about before? Those 60 days are all a determined employer needs to wage an intensive anti-unionization campaign, bringing in professional anti-union trainers and consultants to discourage workers from unionizing -- and even to shut down an entire operation if a union victory seems imminent. Have you ever given more than two weeks' notice to a company you were leaving and felt how the days dragged on? Sixty days equals eight and a half weeks. Plenty of time for your boss to make your life even more miserable.

Current law prohibits employers from making threats of reprisal or force, or
promising benefits that might interfere with an election. Prohibited acts include
threats of physical force or loss of job or benefits, or promises of pay raises,
promotions or other benefits.
If employers engage in such conduct, and their
behavior disrupts election conditions, the NLRB may order the employer to
bargain with the union even in cases where the union lost the election.

And yet one-fourth of employers illegally fire at least one worker for organizing activity; three-fourths bring in outside professionals to disrupt organizing activity; 92 percent force employees to attend anti-union meetings; 78 percent mandate one-on-one anti-union meetings as well as group meetings; and more than half threaten to close operations if workers vote to unionize, although only 1 in 100 actually does. Where are the consequences for these intentional disruptions of the process? There are none. The current system is not OK. It is broken, and tens of millions of workers are suffering because of it.

But the biggest lie of all is the assertion that the EFCA robs workers of the right to a secret-ballot election. In fact, under this bill, if one-third of workers request a secret-ballot election, they can have one! Card check merely provides an alternate route to the securing of union representation -- one that management can't poke its nose into. Since card check is voluntary, the idea that union thugs are looking over everyone's shoulders to see what they're writing on their cards is preposterous; workers who don't want to unionize or who distrust the union seeking to represent them can simply decline to hand in a card. It seems to me that a union would be foolish to initiate a card-check campaign in a workplace if it didn't have at least one-third of the employees on board already, with a reasonable expectation of signing up at least another one-sixth.

BTW, the YouTube video appears to require approval of comments. Approval of the poster -- the group that produced the video? Then you can bet the comments will remain awfully one-sided.

UPDATE: Follow this link to contact your representatives in Congress in support of the EFCA, courtesy of American Rights at Work.

Originally posted to Geenius at Wrok on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:30 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for freedom of choice (22+ / 0-)

    . . . and natural turf!

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:31:03 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Geenius, (5+ / 0-)

    We need to turn the tide here. We are overrun by corporate money on all fronts.

    Big boss ain't so big, just tall, that's all.-Written by Jimmy Reed. Belted Out by Koko Taylor.

    by TheFatLadySings on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:41:51 PM PDT

  •  This is an important diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellicatt, willb48, Youffraita, Wes Opinion

    I caught that ad in the background while I was washing dishes, and I must admit, I was confused.

    We need to stomp this astroturf campaign right now.

  •  I saw that commercial on Olbermann's show tonight (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok, willb48, Youffraita

    What a load of crap.  Even their name, "Coalition for a Democratic Workplace", is sneaky.  To the unsuspecting, they make it sound like they are representing a Democratic point of view, when this is truly Republican propaganda at its finest.

    I heard all of these same Republican talking points when the issue was debated in Congress.  You are correct about the 1/3 private ballot option, and that point is what the Republicans always fail to mention during debate or press release time.  The Republicans want you to think that the private ballot option will never be available again.  

    They never change, do they?

    GOP = Graveyard of Progress (Dick Durbin, Senate Floor, 4/15/08)

    by Ellicatt on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:47:43 PM PDT

  •  I saw the ad too (5+ / 0-)

    it's disgusting.  The Employee Free Choice Act will protect workers from corporate intimidation, by taking away from the employers the option to apply pressure before a union "secret ballot" vote.  If you can sign your name to a card and become a Republican, you should be able to sign your name to a card and become a union member.  It's that simple.

    "The Power to change this party, and the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine." - Gov. Howard Dean, MD

    by deaniac83 on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:48:57 PM PDT

  •  My take? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hopalong, Uncle Moji, willb48

    Our economy is a house of cards. Don't breathe.

    by Youffraita on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 06:55:51 PM PDT

  •  Great ad (0+ / 0-)

    Appalling, but probably very effective propaganda.  Was that Johnny Sack?  Sure looked like him.  So, guess what?  Labor unions are mobbed up.


  •  in a nation where a even a major Democratic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok

    Presidential candidate can have her campaign run by a person whose PR firm runs anti-union campaigns for other clients, this is hardly surprising.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 07:35:39 PM PDT

  •  There is a reason that we have secret ballots (0+ / 0-)

    when voting: because previously, voters were intimidated by patronage machines into voting for the machine favored candidate.

    The current system of determining whether workers are to be unionized is pretty flawed, but providing a presumption that a secret ballot would not be taken also seems problematic. It may be the better alternative, but to dismiss the fears of the consequences out of hand seems prolematic.

    There are other questions as well:

    How close in time do the cards have to be signed?
    What happens if 40% of the workers sign cards for union A and 20% for union B?
    What happens if I sign a card, but later revoke my signature?

    •  Response to your questions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geenius at Wrok, Uncle Moji, Spekkio

      1.The window for getting cards signed varies in public sector unions, and is usually done within 90-120 days of the end of a contract for newly organized members.  The private sector probably works in a similar way, but you'd have to ask someone with more experience than I in that arena.  

      1. A majority of employees in positions up for representation would need to sign cards in order for the union to be recognized.  For example, if union A seeks to organize 100 cashiers at a grocery store, and union B wants to organize 100 stock clerks at the same store, each union would need 50 cards from their respective groups to be certified, and then the store would have two unions.
      1.  If you sign a card, and decide to revoke your signature, it would depend on when your revokation took place.  If it was before certification, then you card cannot be counted.  If it is after, too bad for you, you're still unionized.  

      Another thing about "secret ballots"- they're not secret to the employer.  When I worked in the private sector, an election was held to bring in a small number of employees into an existing union.  The NLRB was present to conduct the election, and I was in attendance as the management representative.  I knew who was voting, watched them vote, and certified the results with the NLRB rep at the close, with the union rep observing.  Everyone knew how everyone voted.  

      With card check, the union may know who signs cards, but management doesn't unless the employee shares that information.  The employee is better protected from retaliation by the employer this way.  Management is much more likely to apply strong pressure to employees to remain anti-union than a union would be to force a non-believer into signing a card, at least in my experience.

      Try these websites for more info:


      American Rights at Work

  •  That was weird... I saw the ad differently (0+ / 0-)

    When I first saw it I thought that was the employer in the booth checking to ensure the employee didn't vote 'yes'.

    I guess I just don't see stereotypes. :)

    Either interpretation though, the ad's a pure load.

    The Iraq war cost another $48,000 in the time it took you to read this sentence. - QT

    by kafkaesque on Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 01:41:47 PM PDT

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