From the Wall Street Journal:

Big Labor’s dream to end secret ballots in union organizing elections has faded in the 111th Congress, but now the battle turns to the states. Citizens in Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah will vote on November 2 on ballot initiatives to block union “card check.”


The four “save our secret ballot” initiatives on the November ballot, as they are called, would provide constitutional protection for secret ballot elections before a union is certified. The South Dakota proposal, for example, would amend the state constitution by stating that in union elections “the fundamental right of the individual to vote by secret ballot is guaranteed.”

[…] Victory for the “save our secret ballot” initiatives in November would slow the state card check campaign and inspire other states to build similar worker safeguards.

As for a national law, Democrats in Congress may make one last push in a lame duck session. They’re under heavy union pressure to hold a vote, and their chief Senate spear carrier, Iowa’s Tom Harkin, has said he wants to bring it to the floor. A sweep in favor of secret ballot protections in all four states in two weeks would send a message that Americans want to preserve their right to vote against a union without the risk of being ostracized-or worse.

Today only 7.5% of private workers are unionized and the trend is downward. Unions have faced several challenges recruiting members. A major challenge is overcoming the free-rider problem associated with lobbying for universal labor gains. The current demands of labor, if realized, would benefit the whole laboring class whether they are union members or not. These include the demands for labor standards abroad, increases in the minimum wage, and universal health coverage. Since nonmembers are not excluded from these benefits, unions encounter a free-rider problem as they attempt to recruit members for their political platform.

Historically, unions attracted members because they were able to secure exclusive benefits such as higher wages, better working conditions, and shorter workdays. Unions that were working for the universal goals of labor, like the Knights of Labor, were very short-lived. In order to overcome the current challenge of decreasing membership, unions are looking to the government to facilitate recruiting through the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

The misleadingly coined, Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) seeks to eliminate an employer’s right to request secret elections, after being presented with a majority of signed union cards, and instead institutes automatic unionization.  Additionally, the act states that in case of no agreement between the union and the company in their first contract, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acts as arbiter.

This regulation poses several issues. It is well known that unions have in the past resorted to intimidation and violence in order to increase their membership numbers. Secret ballot elections are the only way in which workers are given to opportunity to express their opinion in a non-threatening environment. The EFCA would potentially eliminate this opportunity by forcing workers to identify themselves in public in case they do not agree with the automatic institution of unionization upon a majority of signed union cards. The imposed arbitration in case of no agreement between unions and employers engages the government in coercing either one, or both parties to become subjects to a binding contract.

IWF has written extensively on the issue, arguing that Card Check Will Harm, Not Help, American Workers, that the Employee Free Choice Act Means Union Intimidation in Plain English, and that contrary to the opposition’s argument, Card Check [is] Bad for Women, African-Americans and Plain Undemocratic.  The US Chamber of Commerce also has a very informative, short video explaining card check.

Unions, desperate to increase their membership numbers, are attempting to use the political process to coerce workers and employers into unionization of their workplace. Eliminating employer’s option to request secret ballot elections would hurt workers ability to exercise their free choice by exposing them to pressure from co-workers and union recruiters to sign union cards. Rather than eliminating the democratic procedure of secret ballots, unions should focus on providing exclusive, useful services to their members such as training, unemployment benefits, and facilitation services in finding new employment, which may incentivize workers to join unions voluntarily.