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Unions may be the problem

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yesterday Sarah Lyons wrote an letter in support of the ironically named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) (“Unions a necessity,” March 31).This bill, if passed, would change the process of how workforces can unionize.

Currently, once a majority of workers sign cards in favor of an election, there is a waiting period triggered while both the union and management get to make their respective cases for and against unionization. After this period is over, a secret ballot election is held, where each worker can go into a booth alone and vote his conscience. Were the EFCA to pass, the process would go like this: A majority of workers sign union cards, and a union is automatically formed.

Without the protection of the secret ballot, workers would be subject to intimidation from union bosses and peer pressure since card signing is done in public. There would be no chance to vote without fear of consequences from those that disagree with him. Yet, Ms. Lyons sights fairness as a reason to support this bill. Going from a system where both parties get to present their side of the argument and then the worker gets to make a choice anonymously, to a system where one side of the argument gets to openly cajole and intimidate workers until they get their way, seems unfair to me.

One man who agrees with me is famed liberal Democratic Senator George McGovern. Despite his longtime support of labor unions, McGovern has actively campaigned against this bill which he sees as an attack on democracy. I do not believe that most of the supporters of the EFCA truly wish to attack democracy. I think they simply believe that there is absolutely no downside to unionization for workers and that any obstacle in the way of unionization should be removed, no matter if it is the secret ballot. However, one must look no further than one of the most heavily unionized industries in the country, the failing and layoff happy U.S. automotive industry, to see why some workers might want the opportunity to say no to unions with the privacy of a secret ballot.

Brian Benjamin



March 30