Stop Democrats’ Big Labor payoff 

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected today to approve the deceptively labeled "Employee Free Choice Act of 2007," sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and most of his colleagues on his side of the partisan aisle. Virtually all Republicans — possibly joined by a few independent-minded Democrats — will vote no, most for reasons explained on the opposite page by their floor leader, Rep. Howard McKeon, a California Republican.

EFCA is Big Labor’s No. 1 legislative priority for the 110th Congress. We believe it should be defeated for these three reasons. First, EFCA strikes down a fundamental right of workplace democracy, the secret ballot in representation elections. Instead of protecting workers’ right to vote their consciences without fear of union or management retaliation or intimidation, EFCA enables union officials seeking to organize a company for the first time to obtain signatures supporting a representation vote on cards from a majority of employees.

This is the "check card" system Big Labor has desperately sought for years as its membership has dwindled to less than 10 percent of all private sector workers. Making public the votes or nonvotes of every employee in a company being organized exposes them to the worst kinds of intimidation. We guarantee secret ballots to voters who elect congressmen and senators. Why end that same right in the workplace simply to help Big Labor?

Second, EFCA includes an obscure provision that will result in government arbitrators establishing wages and benefits in companies that can’t reach agreement with a new union within 90 days from a representation election. Such negotiations often stretch weeks beyond EFCA’s new deadline. Do we really want government arbitrators deciding how much we should be paid and what kind of benefits we should receive? Big Labor likes the idea because it frees union political operatives to contribute more dues money to Democrats, replacing the hard work of negotiating a fair deal for employees.

Which brings us to the third reason to reject EFCA. Democrats have long claimed special interest money corrupts politics. California’s Miller is a longtime Big Labor favorite, receiving nearly 64 percent of his 2006 campaign war chest from unions and nearly 55 percent during his career, according to OpenSecrets.org. Miller has served his Big Labor donors well this year, whipping EFCA through the House Education and Labor Committee he chairs with but one hearing. Also being the House Democrats’ policy chairman makes Miller a valuable Big Labor advocate on a wide range of issues. Miller is far from unique among the Democratic congressional leadership or its rank and file members, virtually all of whom depend heavily on union contributions.

Voting against EFCA is the perfect opportunity to put their votes where they claim their principles are.

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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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