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August 1, 2008

Defunding the Right

-- by Dave Johnson

Have you heard about Wal-Mart's campaign to intimidate its workers into voting against Democrats?

Suppose Obama were to say something along the lines of "When I am elected we are going to enforce the law." Nothing more. This is not a statement that people can find fault with.

Suppose that some of us started hinting that he means that after he takes office his Justice Dept and other agencies are going to look over who has been complying with various election laws, labor laws, etc. during this election. Suppose we hint that he means companies intimidating workers to vote a certain way, churches, think tanks, front groups incorporated as c4s but doing candidate work, campaigns violating election laws, etc.

Suppose this became a big story with Obama refusing to comment on what he plans to do beyond enforcing the laws of our country.

Suppose this created some concern among the Wal-Marts and the Sheldon Adelsons that they had better think about following the law?

What would this do to the funding sources of the right's machine?

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 1, 2008 3:54 PM

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Comments

Wal mart is very concerned about "card check," and rightfully so.

Once card check becomes law, there's going to be a huge backlash against the Democrats. The notion that a secret ballot election is NOT the best way to determine workers' acquiescence to union representation will be very hard to explain to the American people.

It will be a very good show.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2008 3:31 PM

This is ridiculous. Secret ballots are not outlawed by the Employee Free Choice Act. It just adds a new way for workers to unionize, which gets around employer intimidation. The EFCA is about making it possible for employees to organize, in this environment where employers like Wal-Mart spy on employees and fire those talking about unions.

The Act allows employees to form a union by "card check" which means that a majority of the employees have signed up saying they want a union.

From the act: (6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a petition shall have been filed by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes, the Board shall investigate the petition. If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bargaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).


If you want to know why companies like Wal-Mart are against this Act, here is the reason: The bill would require the NLRB to seek a federal court injunction against an employer whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that the employer has discharged or discriminated against employees, threatened to discharge or discriminate against employees, or engaged in conduct that significantly interferes with employee rights during an organizing or first contract drive. It also authorizes the courts to grant temporary restraining orders or other appropriate injunctive relief.

The bill also calls for increases in the amount an employer is required to pay when an employee is discharged or discriminated against during an organizing campaign or first contract drive to two times back pay as liquidated damages, in addition to the back pay owed, for a total of three times the back pay. Current damages are limited to back pay, less any wages earned by an employee if they are hired by another employer.

Finally, the bill would provide for civil fines of up to $20,000 per violation against employers found to have willfully or repeatedly violated employees’ rights during an organizing campaign or first contract drive. Currently there are no civil fines for violations.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2008 4:21 PM

Eh. . I could have guessed what you thought, Dave.

I understand the secret ballots will still be allowed; I didn't claim otherwise. I'm not really arguing about the merits of the legislation. I'm just saying that some people (employees!) will not like the new system because they will be asked to do in public something that they used to be able to do in private.

Democrats will look bad for this. I'm just predicting the political implications. I can foresee big Republican gains in 2010 on this issue.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2008 5:37 PM

Wow, you must not be in touch with very many working people if you think they will be angry at finally being allowed to unionize!!!

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2008 8:24 PM

I feel like you and I should make a wager. I'm stating a prediction. I might be wrong, but I think I'm right. Gentleman's bet. I'm sure you'll keep this thread up and we'll check back in 2.5 years (assuming Obama wins) and this thing becomes law.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2008 8:56 PM

It's ironic how conservatives never mention that it is the company which can demand the secret ballot. And card checks are even simpler. The anti union Corporate Fascists, curiously in league with Communist China through ChinaMart, never admit this:

From the WSJ:

Both supporters and opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act believe it would simplify and speed labor's ability to unionize companies. Currently, companies can demand a secret-ballot election to determine union representation. Those elections often are preceded by months of strident employer and union campaigns.

Under the proposed legislation, companies could no longer have the right to insist on one secret ballot. Instead, the Free Choice, or "card check," legislation would let unions form if more than 50% of workers simply sign a card saying they want to join. It is far easier for unions to get workers to sign cards because the organizers can approach workers repeatedly, over a period of weeks or months, until the union garners enough support.

Employers argue that the card system could lead to workers being pressured to sign by pro-union colleagues and organizers. Unions counter that it shields workers from pressure from their employers.

Posted by: John Bryans Fontaine at August 4, 2008 4:07 PM

I just don't understand how anybody can be intimidated by a secret ballot. Any other means of making the decision is bound to involve more intimidation than a secret ballot.

Perhaps we would choose our next President via "card check" since it is just such a wonderful way of giving the people a real voice in decisions that affect them. That's sarcasm.

Posted by: Jay Muntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2008 8:36 PM

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