Libertarians back secret ballot voting rights in union elections

Press Release

Libertarians, 74% of union workers, oppose job-killing “card check” bill

WASHINGTON — America’s third largest party warns concerned citizens that plans to scrap the right of workers to a secret ballot in union elections are far from dead. Libertarians also warn that such “card check” legislation also destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs as the nation attempts to revive its economy.

“The right to vote by secret ballot is one of our most cherished institutions for a reason. It protects people from those who would use violence or intimidation to achieve their goals,” said William Redpath, Libertarian National Committee Chair.

“The card check bill currently in Congress that strips workers of their basic voting rights in union organizing matters is far from dead, and it threatens not just workers’ rights and safety, but it threatens people’s jobs as well,” said Redpath.

Card check allows a union to organize by confronting employees with a so-called “signature card” supporting the creation of a union in their work place. The union would maintain control and possession of the cards, along with the names and personal information of the employees, until they get enough signatures to force unionization. In many cases, the person demanding the signature would be the employee’s supervisor.

“A good union shouldn’t fear a secret ballot. Stripping workers of that right only empowers bad unions to organize through coercion,” said Redpath.

Allowing a union to form by simply coercing workers to publicly sign cards could force businesses to slash as many as 600,000 jobs nationwide, according to research from The Alliance To Save Main Street.

74 percent of rank-and-file union workers oppose the card check legislation in Congress, a January 2009 McLaughlin & Associates poll finds.

Once a majority of workers submit to the signature card demands, the union could then begin collecting dues from the workers’ paychecks without ever having a secret ballot election on the matter.

“These signature cards strip workers of their right to a secret ballot, allowing an unscrupulous union boss to organize a workplace by simply bullying or threatening a minority of the workforce into signing signature cards,” said Redpath. “There’s a reason we don’t allow signature cards in elections for political office, and those concerns over violence and intimidation are just as valid in the workplace.”

It would also allow union bosses to pocket an additional $7 billion in forced dues, according to the National Right to Work Committee. Much of that $7 billion could find its way into the campaign accounts of card check supporters, through extensive union political donations, giving senators much incentive to pass the forced unionism-friendly bill.

The bill is considered stalled in the Senate after past supporters Arlen Specter (R-PA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced they could not support the bill as written. But the impending arrival of Senator-elect Al Franken (D-MN) may give anti-ballot forces the votes they need to pass card check, and any changes to the bill allow Specter, Lincoln or Feinstein to switch their allegiance back.

“Opponents of secret ballot voting rights want you to think card check is dead. They’re wrong. Voters, especially voters in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and California, need to call their senator at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose the very-much-alive card check bill,” said Redpath.

For more information on this issue, or to arrange an interview with the Libertarian Party, please call Director of Communications Donny Ferguson at 703-200-3669 or 202-333-0008, x. 225, or email Donny.Ferguson@lp.org.

5 thoughts on “Libertarians back secret ballot voting rights in union elections

  1. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Card check” is not the problem, it’s just a symptom of the problem. The problem is government being involved in labor representation matters at all.

  2. Chris Cole

    This issue came up during my US Senate race. Thomas is correct. The federal government created this problem with the National Labor Relations Act, which gives 51% of employees the right to force the other 49% to accept their monopoly representation in labor negotiations. If you remove that government intervention, so that union membership and representation are voluntary, the issue of voting method disappears. All workers should have the right to decide whether or not their best self-interest lies with a union, in general, or with any particular union.

  3. Rich Paul

    What would happen if *another* union showed up and offered to fill jobs for less.

    I know there are lots of *union busting* regulations, but I don’t know of *union switching* regulations.

    There are lots of unemployed people who might be willing to form an organization, call it a “union” and offer to work for less than a current union.

  4. Tomcat

    I’m not exactly a fan of unions in general, but I’m in agreement. The government should butt out of this completely and let the unions and the businesses work this out between them.

    Compulsion to join an organization that requires dues to work sounds a lot like just another tax on your income to me.

  5. Public D

    Real Libertarians, not pro-Wall Street / Chamber of Commerce flunkies, would say to hell with the Employee Free Choice Act and champion the repeal of Taft-Hartley.

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