Skip to comments.Anti-democratic - Push to end secret union ballots is indefensible (Just say No to SB 789, aRnie)
Posted on 08/29/2009 5:56:53 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Some scholars squabble about the particulars, but there is no question that democracy's roots go back at least 2,500 years to practices developed in the Greek city-state of Athens. But the adoption of a key pillar of democracy the secret ballot came far more recently.
In England in the 1830s, disenfranchised working-class men and sympathetic members of Parliament launched the Chartist movement. The most crucial of its six objectives was universal suffrage for all men over 21, but not far behind was the secret-ballot provision.
It took decades, but eventually the secret ballot became the democratic norm a simple but powerful tool against voter intimidation, vote-buying and fraud.
This noble history is essential to considering SB 789, a bill the Legislature sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week to change the way farm-worker elections are held. It scraps the traditional secret ballot in favor of a system in which a union could conduct a de facto election on union representation by signing up more than half of a farm's workers.
The preposterous argument put forth for the measure: This is the next step toward protecting the full democratic rights of farm workers, declared Assemblyman William Monning, D-Monterey.
This is downright Orwellian. The purest form of democracy occurs in the privacy of the ballot booth, where an individual is free to decide how to cast her or his vote. An election in which group intimidation and peer pressure can play a direct coercive role is far from any democratic ideal.
Alas, in both Sacramento and Washington, card-check union elections appear to be a Democratic ideal, thanks to the pressure of organized labor. Of all the party's priorities, demanding that workers lose their right to a secret ballot is arguably the most odious and indefensible.
When he follows through with his expected veto of SB 789 in coming days, we hope Schwarzenegger makes all these points and more.
Yes, the English Chartists pushed for a secret ballot, but such a ballot was first introduced into the electoral process in the Australian colonies (Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria in 1856 - after the Eureka Rebellion in Victoria in 1854). England didn't achieve such reforms until 1872. It's rather compelling evidence for the fact that while political activism is all fine and dandy, sometimes achieving real reform requires action - and sometimes the spilling of blood in rebellion.
Dems - being the party of criminals - hate the secret ballot.