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America’s Workers Deserve the Right to a Secret Ballot

Posted by Stephen on March 2, 2007

Op-Ed by Congressman James Sensenbrenner-(R) 5th District, Wisconsin

Last November, millions of Americans went to the polls to express their right to vote for representation in federal, state, and local governments. Ballot secrecy has been considered fundamental to Americans’ right to vote since the foundation of this Republic. It’s a right that nearly all Americans and freedom-loving people the world over hold dear.

So, why did the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives vote yesterday to remove workers’ rights to secret ballot elections on whether to unionize? If these same changes were made for governmental elections, there is no question the legislation would be struck down as unconstitutional.

The ironically-titled Employee Free Choice Act eliminates an employee’s right to cast a private ballot. As a result, employees can be subject to coercion and outright intimidation by union bosses in the workplace and beyond. A more appropriate title for this bill is “the Worker Intimidation Act.”

The Democrat leadership will tell you that this bill gives workers the right to freely choose a union. However, as a long supporter of the right for workers to freely unionize, I could not in good conscience support this legislation. It cannot honestly be ascertained that workers are allowed the right to freely unionize when their votes on the matter are subject to intimidation.

In fact, this bill’s author joined other Congressional colleagues in writing to Mexican officials in 2001 to insist on the protection of workers’ rights to a secret ballot over the issue of unionization. The letter called secret ballots “absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose.”

The bill’s author was right in 2001. So, why aren’t secret ballots absolutely necessary for American workers in 2007? Perhaps, it’s because every time union organizers succeed in accumulating enough signed union cards by any means necessary, a new union is formed without any election whatsoever. That new union can then demand dues of every employee which may be directed to electoral causes friendly to the current House leadership.

This isn’t right, and it’s certainly not fair. America’s hard working people deserve better – they deserve the right to a secret ballot.

Views expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of management of Conservative Viewpoints.

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