The recent defeat of a unionization effort by the UAW at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee was not only a major setback for the union, but also for those pushing "card check" legislation.
Card check legislation, officially known as the "Employee Free Choice Act," was introduced in Congress in 2009 and would "authorize the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union . . . when a majority of employees voluntarily sign authorizations designating that union to represent them."
In other words, employees would "vote" by signing a card in the presence of a union representative, rather than voting in the normal democratic procedure using a secret ballot.
For the UAW vote in Chattanooga, the union claimed that more than half the workers at the assembly plant signed cards favoring the unionization. If the card check law had passed, the UAW would represent the workers. But when the votes were tallied from a secret ballot, the UAW lost 53 percent to 47 percent.
The Employee Free Choice Act legislation was a big deal a few years ago. Every major public- and private-sector union supported it and the Michigan House voted 66-40 for a resolution supporting the federal legislation.
But the 2009 federal card check bill went down, despite Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress and the support of President Obama. Some senators backed off under pressure from constituents and other leaders on the left.
For talking so much about the importance of democracy, unions have shown they don't care much about one of its staples — the secret ballot. The VW vote adds to the examples where a union has claimed to obtain a majority of employee signatures but then lost when employees actually voted in private.
The card check idea should be put to rest for good.
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