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January 21, 2009

A Sneak Attack On Unions

-- by Dave Johnson

I received a press release today. It has a secret attack on the freedom of people to join unions in it. There is really big money behind the attack on unions, and they are using trickery and deception. The press release I received is part of that effort. This press release appears to be from an organization concerned about democracy, but it is really from a lobbying organization funded by big business.

The trickery is in a few words of the last paragraph of the ballot initiative below, where they say "or authorizations of employee representation." Read it carefully, and then you will see that this is what it is really all about. It is all about efforts to turn people against the Employee Free Choice Act by claiming it "eliminates the secret ballot." It doesn't do that, but this is a step in the battle.

So these lobbyists are going to launch well-funded drives to amend the constitutions of several states to require secret ballots in "or authorizations of employee representation." Of course, the upcoming Employee Free Choice Act allows workers to decide whether to form unions using secret ballots or just by having more then 50% of the workers join a union. The fight over these initiatives will stir up the pot, and make it appear that there is something sinister about this effort to let people join unions.

Here is the press release, see for yourself:

National Movement to Protect Secret Ballots in State Constitutions: Save Our Secret Ballot Launches in GA, OK, SC, SD and ND

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Congress poised to act to end the secret ballot rights of employees choosing representation, a national movement to protect the secret ballot in state constitutions launched today in Washington DC and in five states. Entitled SOS Ballot - Save Our Secret Ballot - the new group announced its efforts to place before voters a secret ballot constitutional amendment in Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota, with the expectation that additional states will be announced in the coming weeks.

SOS Ballot National Advisory Board Chairman and former Congressman Ernest Istook said, "Most of us assume voting by secret ballot in America is a constitutional right that has always existed and always will. But neither is the case. With America's right to a secret ballot under serious threat, I'm proud to be part of a citizens' movement to give voters the opportunity to vote by secret ballot, to amend state constitutions to guarantee the right of a secret ballot. We know some in Congress and some from big labor will fight this effort or even arrogantly say the people do not have a right to vote to protect their secret ballot. But rather than deter us, we take this as the proof that we must work diligently in every state to protect and re-affirm our secret ballot rights. The more vocal the opposition, the more every voter will see why we must act immediately, lest we lose the secret ballot and return to the time when voter intimidation and even physical harm were common place."

The initiative language was written by noted attorney and constitutional scholar Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. The Goldwater Institute has pledged its efforts for legal defense of the language if challenged. The 47-word amendment says:

"The right of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. Where state or federal law requires elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed."

[...]

Secret Ballot History

The secret ballot was used locally as an act of post-Civil war southern reconstruction, first as a way to impose a literacy requirement on newly freed slaves. But the secret ballot also protected mostly black voters who faced physical intimidation, even lynching depending on how their vote was cast. Secret ballots were first used statewide in the Massachusetts governor's race 1888 and nationally in 1892 to elect President Grover Cleveland.

Source: SOS Ballot

Web Site: http://www.sosballot.org/

Posted by Dave Johnson at January 21, 2009 4:08 PM


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