Thursday, I was on the fringes of the budget cuts protest and was handed a flier by someone who looked far too old to be a college student. This flier was not in fact about the budget cuts, but calling for Americans to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
The Employee Free Choice Act is a labor union bill currently being considered by Congress. In this post, I don’t want to discuss the merits of labor unions. I don’t even want to discuss most of the provisions of the bill. I just want to discuss one specific provision: The bill will remove the requirement for a secret ballot in union elections. Instead, it will allow a labor union to be formed when the majority of employees sign cards saying that they want a union.
Now, I cannot for the life of me fathom why any freedom-loving individual committed to the idea of democracy would want to do away with something as elemental to open and transparent democracy as the secret ballot.
Secret ballots exist in free elections all around the world for a reason. It doesn’t matter what anyone has said to you or threatened to do to you, once you step into that voting booth what you select on that ballot is between you and God. They can’t punish you after the fact because they have no way of knowing who you really voted for.
With a petition card, anyone can see if you are voting yes or no, and all this goes out the window. The only people that benefit from making elections less free and open are those who would seek to undermine the integrity of an election. Without the protection of the secret ballot, workers don’t have any protection from coercion by advocates of one side or another. Our unionization process will become like elections in a corrupt third world country.
In short, this bill is a threat to free and open democracy, and I truly hope that the US Senate and President Obama have the wisdom to kill this piece of anti-democratic legislation.