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Union Facts

How Are Union Officials Shredding Democracy?

Thousands of organizers from Change To Win labor unions have gathered in Las Vegas this year to plot ways of trashing traditional secret ballot organizing elections. A new poll shows that more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Change To Win leaders' preferred “card check” campaigns, which deny a fair vote to employees. Only a scant 11 percent supported the union officials.

Card checks are just one element of a two-part strategy that union officials use to avoid fair elections. First, union officials force employers (through boycotts, pickets, and demonizing a company's brand through expensive public relations campaigns) to accept “neutrality” agreements. Under this agreement, the business gives up its right to ask for a secret ballot election and recognizs a union if enough employees sign cards. The union then moves on to the second part of its strategy, in which it seeks employee signatures on cards. But as they collect these signatures, union organizers too often harass and intimidate employees, who lose their right to a personal, private vote because of the previously agreed-to “neutrality agreement” their employer was harassed into signing. Between neutrality agreements and card checks, workplace democracy is shredded faster than you can say “anti-democratic union chiefs.”

As we showed in another full-page ad, Change To Win leader and UNITE HERE president Bruce Raynor told the New York Times in May 2003 that “There's no reason to subject the workers to an election.” In fact, Raynor is a leader in the effort to avoid traditional secret ballot elections, which offer every employee a personal, confidential vote. The Bureau of National Affairs recently reported that Raynor said his union organized 90 percent of its new members in 2005 through “alternative means” that often bypass traditional elections.