Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Private Union votes are essential to workers' rights

One of the oddest things about the Obama Administration is their push to remove the requirement for a private ballot to be cast by a workplace deciding to have a union or not. It is puzzling how any rational political leaders, sans heavy donations from big labor, could think that removing the requirement of private votes on unions help protect workers’ rights or stimulate investment.

Having workers in plants under union consideration be subjected to things like an open vote or simply being signed up as for the union creates the potential for fraud and intimidation, from both sides of the question.

Several unsavory scenarios come to mind if the union vote is not secret or goes to some sort of sign up system. The sign up system being bounced around is troublesome. While the people who propose might be well intentioned, it is very possible those without good intentions on either the management of labor side could show up at a guy’s house one evening, with a couple of menacing characters in tow, and talk about the guy’s children and say nothing but imply a lot for a signature or for the guy not to sign on.

The same is true of the open ballot in the workplace. Suppose a worker works a fairly dangerous job that depends upon co-workers for his very safety. If feelings are hot, that worker would be pressured to vote the way those around him he depends upon feel. The same is true of management. Suppose a worker votes openly for the union, but it fails, then some member of management can put that worker on a list to watch or the like. Of course, people speak of laws against such, but we live in the real world.

And, in the real world when big entities like a big labor union or the management of a big business have big money at stake, they have those among them that will pressure the little man. That is why the secret union ballot is so important. It protects the average worker from the forces around him that have stakes other than his interests involved. It allows the worker to decide his best interests, without retribution. Whether it is collecting his union dues or cutting his pay, most of the time, both sides of a union fight have those among them that are not worried about the working man or woman. That is why the working man and woman must have the most basic of protections: the right to a secret ballot to decide such matters. Without that secret ballot watched over, the United States could go back to the 1930s, when groups of men with ax handles enforced pro union stands and business owners with guns answered them. (As a side not, one of the reasons labor unions are so weak in the South is because of the violence of that era and how families handed down stories about things like the “flying squadrons” that would come into to a mill town and harass it if was not union. You would think that big labor would have learned from that public relations black eye.) The American economy faces enough without reintroducing the hothead approach to labor-management relations.

If the Obama Administration is sincere about helping the working man and woman, it should let them keep their private vote on unions and look into pursuing criminal charges against the big managers on Wall Street who robbed the nation blind. If the Obama Administration actually looked at trying to put away those who took billions of taxpayer money for their own bonuses and retirement packages, they would be offering a change that VUI could start to believe in.


  1. Spoken like a man from Honea Path that had the tragedy of 1934. I assume that is what you are talking about with the axhandles and guns.

  2. You forget these ideas come from a President who won the nomination of his party by getting a lot of open caucus votes. Hillary Clinton beat him in secret ballot primary votes. It is how Obama rolls. Bus in the caucus members, make them embarrass their friends, get the party nomination. The guy is an street hustling community organizer. They don't believe in secret ballots or individual rights. They do what they have to do to get their way, right or wrong.

  3. Motorcycle ManFebruary 17, 2009

    Shit, if we had a union at the place I work for, they would shut us down. They did not even want to work with a crazy ass county council in Anderson. This kind of thing will keep the Mexicans at home, because the jobs will be shipped to them. What the Hell is Obama thinking?

  4. Again who cares about this labor union stuff? Talk about count counci. That's what we the people want to hear about.

  5. I have the same feelings. What are you going to do about Cindy Wilson? When are you gonna do something. People want the the change Step upo nan and bring it about. Just run, dude.