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Socialism Comes To America, And You Better Believe It (Card check)
The Bulletin ^ | March 16, 2009 | Herb Denenberg

Posted on 03/16/2009 9:40:17 AM PDT by jazusamo

Coming to a country near you: Labor contracts dictated by federal arbitrators who know little about the businesses they will be regulating by their decisions, and the advent of near universal unionization. The country near you is your country — yes, the United States of America.

If high corporate taxes, increased dividend taxes, increased capital gains taxes, the anti-energy carbon tax and metastasizing regulation won’t kill American business, entrepreneurship, and innovation, this will: the wildly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) backed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, now the far left party. EFCA is the top priority of organized labor and when it asks for something, the Democrats salute and obey.

To put the EFCA into quick perspective, it is so un-American and destructive of free enterprise, that it is even opposed by former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. George McGovern. He knows, as any American should know, the secret ballot is essential to any election process — whether a national election or union. Sen. McGovern understands the fundamental importance of the secret ballot. When he ran for president in 1972, he was considered a far-out leftist. Now the Democratic Party has moved so far to the left it makes Sen. McGovern look like a conservative. This EFCA controversy tells you how the Democratic Party has become totally radicalized and how it has sold its soul to the union bosses. When you’re willing to sacrifice the secret ballot on the altar of political expedience, you’re morally and intellectually bankrupt.

If you think you’ve seen the beginning of socialism, you haven’t seen anything yet. Mr. Obama’s socialist revolution is going to take place on all fronts. You may think the multi-trillion dollar drunken spending splurge, the expansion of government, the proposed government takeover of health care, the crowding out and crushing of private enterprise, the skyrocketing national debt and the explosion of government regulation constitute the main front. But there’s another piece of the socialist revolution on the horizon that may prove to be just as damaging to free enterprise, free markets, private enterprise, capitalistic system and the America that we’re used to.

That piece of the socialist revolution is misleadingly called the Employee Free Choice Act, but it would more correctly be described as the Economy Dictated by Union Bosses and Federal Arbitrators Act, for reasons that will be explained.

Most of the public debate has focused on the card check provision, which is only one part of this deadly legislative cocktail. Card check is a procedure that will by and large take the place of the secret ballot and union elections that has been the rule for 70 years. Instead of secret ballots to decide elections to determine whether or not a union would be certified to represent workers, a card check system will be used. Under that system, if a majority of employers sign a card indicating their desire for a union, that’s enough to get union certification.

The card check signing scenario does not involve any privacy or other protective measures to prevent intimidation in getting signatures on a card. A group of six tough union organizers (or thugs, or executives, or anyone else) can approach an employee in the factory parking lot and “persuade” him to sign a card. There are all kinds of improper pressure that can be exerted on employees. The card check method is an engraved invitation to intimidation and other improper tactics. That’s why a secret ballot has been used since the labor laws of the New Deal were passed.

We’ve always assumed the secret ballot was essential to any election process but now the union bosses and Democratic Party leadership would have you believe that is no longer so. The unholy intent of the law is suggested by provisions aimed at employer overreaching in union elections, but the law includes no measures to prevent the kind of intimidation likely in the card check system.

Card check makes the secret ballot system into the public ballot system. Card check takes the vote for or against a union out of the privacy of the polling booth and lets it take place anywhere, anytime, with any onlookers arranged to be there or who happen to be there by chance.

With this card check provision, we may get something close to universal unionization. The unions have been losing membership for years because they can’t win union elections in sufficient numbers to assure their growth. Instead of trying to make them more appealing to employees, they want a system that will enable them to shove unions down the throats of all employees and employers. The unions have decided if they can’t win in a fair and square union election, they need to assure victory no matter what employees want. So they’ve latched on to the card check idea. The union leaders know they can pretty much get 50 percent of employees to sign cards, even if that 50 percent support would not be forthcoming under the protective cover of a secret ballot.

When a party (the Democratic Party) and a president (Barack Obama) oppose the secret ballot, you can be sure none of our other guarantees of liberty and freedom, none of our other constitutional rights, none of the sacred procedures of our historic form of government are safe. Opposition to the secret ballot shows a party and a president so hungry for power and for implementing its socialist reforms that it is literally deranged.

To show the absolute phoniness, hypocrisy and disingenuousness in the Democratic support of this bill, consider a letter a group of Democrats wrote in 2001 to Mexican officials following a labor dispute in that country. It stated, “We feel that the private ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose.”

The following Democrats signed that letter saying the secret ballot is absolutely necessary, and yet they now support the secret-ballot-killing EFCA: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; and George Miller, D-Calif. Again, union pressure and passion for power are enabling the Democrats to jettison their principles in order to push the ECFA and some of the other leftist proposals.

The proponents of the ECFA try to get around the secret ballot argument by noting that the employees could theoretically call for a secret ballot election rather than the card check approach. But that argument is ridiculous, as union organizers would never go the secret ballot route when they have a slam-dunk card check approach to union authorization. In other words, if the way to authorization were jumping over a one-foot barrier why would anyone choose instead to jump over a 20-foot barrier? But advocates of card check, such as Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., think that’s a real choice. I suspect he knows better.

And the abolition of the secret ballot is only one piece of this anti-democratic, un-American legislation. An even more dangerous provision requires arbitration when a union and employer do not reach agreement on the employment contract. Once arbitration is invoked, the federal arbitrators come in and dictate the terms of the employment contract and, in effect, usurp management and ownership. American business has a full-scale battle to stay competitive and now it will have to confront management directed and dictated by federal bureaucrats, a sure formula for failure and bankruptcy.

Under existing law, the parties are required to negotiate in good faith until they agree on terms. The Heritage Foundation puts it this way, “Mutual consent and good faith negotiating form the foundation of the collective bargaining process … If both sides cannot reach an agreement, the union may call a strike and the employer may implement its last offer or even lock out workers. Both sides use their bargaining power to win concessions, but neither side must accept terms that they find unacceptable. Section 8(d) of the National Labor Relations Act specifies that the law ‘does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.’ ” (The quotes from the Heritage Foundation here and elsewhere in this column are in its Web memo, “Card Check Creates Government-Run Workplaces,” by James Sherk, WebMemo No. 2334 (March 10, 2009).)

This means neither side has to accept the unacceptable — employees can insist on a fair deal and employers can insist on a deal they can live with and that will not impair their competitiveness or even bankrupt them. This protects both sides from being forced to proceed under an unsatisfactory contract.

This all changes radically under the EFCA. Within 10 days after the union is organized, the parties meet and collective bargaining proceeds. After 90 days of bargaining, either party may request mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Thirty days later if there is no settlement, the FMCS must refer the matter to arbitration. The arbitrators come up with a contract that is binding on the parties for two years.

This comes close to turning over the management of a company to federal arbitrators who might know nothing of the business and, in any event, lack the special expertise to resolve these matters. The Heritage Foundation points out that under the EFCA, federal bureaucrats (arbitrators) would dictate:

• Wages and bonuses

• Employment levels

• Retirement and health care plans

• Changes in business operations

• Promotion procedures

• Work assignment

• Subcontracting

• Closure, sale, or merger of a business

This means the government bureaucrats would decree the framework for the management of all unionized businesses and under card check procedures almost all companies would soon be unionized.

This translates into a pervasive penetration into all aspects of the business operation. The Heritage Foundation reports, “The government would decide how many employees a firm hired, how much it paid them, how it promotes them, and what retirement and health benefits they receive.

“Additionally, the government would also be empowered to make critical decisions regarding business operations. Any business operation that significantly affects workers’ jobs or working conditions would be set by arbitrators — even the equipment employees us. The government would determine what tasks a firm subcontracts out for and what work gets performed in-house. It would even decide whether businesses could merge or whether they could relocate operations. Government bureaucrats would set most major business decisions for newly organized businesses for two years. Given the power the government would now wield over the private sector, EFCA effectively allows the government to run newly organized workplaces.”

The bottom line is that passage of the EFCA would subject virtually all companies to unionization and management control by federal arbitrators. This means the competitive position of American companies would be severely impaired and the chances of economic recovery would be further diminished. The EFCA would strangle America’s ability to compete and prosper.

This bill is likely to pass in some form and the amendments being discussed would not correct the fundamental defects of the bill. It will take total Republican unity in the Senate to stop this bill. If there are just a few defectors, as there were with the stimulus package, the bill will pass. Therefore, it is important to flood all senators with letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls expressing opposition to the EFCA. You can also write letters to the editor and phone talk shows to try to educate the public on the objections to the EFCA.

There’s one other chance of killing at least part of the bill. The National Review (March 23, 2009) reports that one leading legal scholar, Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, thinks that awards under the mandatory arbitration provision may be unconstitutional.

The argument will be that the awards constitute an unconstitutional taking within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. There are also New Deal era Supreme Court decisions suggesting that the arbitration decisions constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative power.

The chances of a successful challenge to EFCA will continue to decrease if Mr. Obama has Supreme Court appointments. He has said he will stress whether judicial appointees have “empathy” with the downtrodden. That’s a roundabout way of saying his appointees will not be bound by the law or the Constitution, but will legislate from the bench. That means laws passed by a liberal majority in Congress are not likely to be overturned. One of the most catastrophic consequences of the Obama election is that before long all three branches of the U.S. Government — the executive, the legislative, and the judicial — are likely to be under the control of hard-left Democrats.

There’s one other argument against the EFCA. It is going to prove to be one of the most divisive and inflammatory debates of our time. That makes no sense when the first priority should be getting the banking/credit problem solved and the economy on track. Strange as it may seem, the Obama administration is mired in almost every liberal reform they can think of, doing everything but the one thing and the first thing they should be doing: fixing the economy. This is another multiple distraction which has no upside for Mr. Obama or for the country.

With this legal and political environment, the public better turn the pressure up on the EFCA and the other moves of the Obama administration. This is not just an argument about a piece of legislation or some minor nuance of public policy. The Obama program represents a fundamental restructuring of our government and our economy in a move toward European-style socialism and the destruction of such basic institutions as the secret ballot. So what is at stake is more than one program or another; what is at stake is our very way of life. We have to decide whether we will put our stock in bureaucrats, in arbitrators, and in government … or we will put our stock in the American people and the entrepreneurship and innovation, which they produce when not handcuffed by big government and socialistic takeovers.

We have to decide whether we want a radical, socialist, leftist approach or the traditional approach that has produced the greatest country and economy in the history of the world. We have to decide whether we want to be another France or the same America. We better remember the threats to America are not all external. And we better not forget that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: 111th; bho44; cardcheck; denenberg; efca; obama; secretballot; unions; unionvote
The Bulletin is a small but growing Conservative newspaper in Philadelphia and has other good articles, try checking it out at link.
1 posted on 03/16/2009 9:40:17 AM PDT by jazusamo
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To: jazusamo

I wonder if the unions know that they will be next for “socialization.”

Remember, the USSR also had unions. Membership was mandatory. The benefits were non-existent.

2 posted on 03/16/2009 9:42:53 AM PDT by henkster (0bamanomics: "I'll loan you all the money you need to get out of debt.")
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To: henkster

You make a good point.

I would guess many unions are being run by socialists who wouldn’t care in the least but the ones that aren’t will have a rude awakening when this comes about.

3 posted on 03/16/2009 9:47:42 AM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

That’s not “socialism”, it’s Trotskyism....................

4 posted on 03/16/2009 9:56:59 AM PDT by Red Badger (0bama: I'm not a socialist......................(I'm a Trotskyite)...............)
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To: Red Badger

Maybe so but we still don’t want it. :)

5 posted on 03/16/2009 10:01:35 AM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

This isn’t socialism, people — or at least not just socialism. It is facism, pure and simple: Private ownership in form, but absolute government control in fact.

6 posted on 03/16/2009 10:07:35 AM PDT by piytar (Obama = Mugabe wannabe. Wake up America.)
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To: jazusamo

That’s just it - look at the “established” unions here in America. Unions are a lot like socialism/communism! Who in these older, stronger unions get the good benefits, I mean the really good benefits? Only those at the top! Unions are sold to employees as being good for “everyone.”

But, when they go on strike, union leaders don’t even have to walk picket lines, but they still get their strike pay! They usually don’t even do their actual jobs anymore - their “job” is to run the union! And no matter what, the leaders ALWAYS get paid MORE than those peons on the lines, doing the work, etc... But remember, this is best for everyone!

And like any good socialist society, the middle managers (stewards) seek to reach the leader roles and are willing to help the system (union) survive even at the cost of the employees (society)! You know, in other words they are greedy!

Wait, that can’t be it because greed only exists in capitalistic societies (America)!

7 posted on 03/16/2009 10:28:28 AM PDT by ExTxMarine (For whatsoe'ver their sufferings were before; that change they covet makes them suffer more. -Dryden)
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To: jazusamo; Horusra; Delacon; CygnusXI; Entrepreneur; Defendingliberty; WL-law; Genesis defender; ...
"If high corporate taxes, increased dividend taxes, increased capital gains taxes, the anti-energy carbon tax and metastasizing regulation won’t kill American business, entrepreneurship, and innovation, this will: the wildly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) backed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, now the far left party. EFCA is the top priority of organized labor and when it asks for something, the Democrats salute and obey."

The carbon tax is about fleecing the citizens of their money and their freedom.


Beam me to Planet Gore !

8 posted on 03/16/2009 2:29:08 PM PDT by steelyourfaith
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