Democrats: Keep secret ballotsacred 

It’s nearly 60 years since the British writer George Orwell warned about the political misuse of the English language. The democratic West, he worried, was not immune to the propagandistic practices of totalitarian countries, in which the power-driven would throw glittering words and phrases about promiscuously, intending by them the public acceptance of exactly the opposite of their historical meanings. Sorry to say, but Rep. George Miller has become adept at the troubling practice.

He’s not alone, of course. Politicians on both the left and the right — and from all parties — make regular deposits in the bank of linguistic corruptions. But on Wednesday the East Bay Democrat pushed through his Education and Labor Committee an anti-freedom, anti-democracy bill with the exquisitely Orwellian title of "The Employee Free Choice Act of 2007." There’s no love for freedom in the legislation now moving to the House floor.

"Under the Employee Free Choice Act," according to Miller’s cleverly worded press release, "if a majority of workers in a workplace sign cards authorizing a union, then the workers would get a union. This majority sign-up process is permitted under current law, but only if the employer allows it. Many employers instead force employees to undergo an election process administered by the National Labor Relations Board. In NLRB elections, the deck is stacked heavily against pro-union workers."

To consider the farrago of misinformation in that paragraph, it is useful to recall the purpose of the NLRB, created in the Great Depression over the objections of Big Business by the sainted President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout its history the NLRB has been seen as the great enabler of union organizing, and business leaders did whatever they could to keep labor issues from reaching it for resolution. For Miller even implicitly to portray it as the tool of capitalist board rooms should offend intellectually honest progressives.

True enough, in its nearly eight decades of evolution, the board proved not to be the monstrous incubator of union bosses Big Business feared. What it has done (to the credit of FDR) is arbitrate labor disputes, establishing rules and procedures to assure fairly conducted union elections. Importantly, its existence recognizes that free-enterprising individual workers and business owners have rights, too.

What Miller really wants is to eliminate the secret ballot in union elections, substituting a "card check" system whereby union activists collect cards allegedly signed by employees and supposedly signifying their votes on such matters as allocating their assessments. Abuses of workers’ true wishes not only are potential, they are guaranteed. There is no "free choice" in this travesty, clearly a payoff to union leaders who contributed so handsomely to the Democrats’ November election victory.

Honest Democrats who hold the secret ballot as sacred should deny the congressman his power trip. We encourage readers to contact Rep. Miller at George.Miller@mail.house.gov.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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