Labor unions have been in the news lately, and both stories show the same basic facts: while union membership is declining and their power is waning, they are still one of the Democrats’ core constituencies — the Democrats are eager to sustain them however they can.
First up, the Democrats have saddled an anti-terrorism measure with a provision allowing airport screeners to join a union. Both sides are up in arms over it; the right says it’s cynical attempt to get the measure passed by attaching it to something the Republicans won’t dare vote against; the left says it merely undoes part of a prior anti-terrorism act that made the screeners federal employees, but denied them access to unions.
Next, and several commenters brought it to my attention, last week the House passed the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act.” If this measure becomes law, then employees who are considering unionizing will be spared the awful burden of deciding, in the privacy of a ballot booth, whether or not they wish to entrust their careers to unions, but instead can simply stand before a union organizer — or twenty — and say “yes” or “no” — and that, not the ballot, will count.
The first measure is certainly debatable. I can see the arguments of whether it it germane or not, and when it’s that gray, I tend to say “let it ride” and let it go for a vote. (Personally, I’d shoot it down, but I don’t question its very legitimacy.)
The second, though, offends pretty much every sensibility I have.
There’s an old saying that America’s freedom is protected by three boxes: the ballot box, the soap box, and the ammunition box. Here we see an open assault on the first of those, and a challenge to the second. The right of the individual to cast his vote in private, with no one looking over his shoulder, should be sacrosanct. And in a matter as important as unionizing, when there is a long, established history of violence, coercion, and corruption, (Jimmy Hoffa was asked to rebut this statement, but has been unavailable for comment for about 30 years — and how many Teamsters bosses have NOT been indicted? But I digress.) it’s especially important that the workers be allowed to cast their votes safe from the scrutiny of either side.
Alternately, why not simply allow employers to ask workers to sign cards rejecting unions? Simply have management approach each worker in a polite, friendly, non-threatening way and ask them if they’d mind signing away their right to unionize. That ought to balance the books nicely.
(The remarkable thing is how little attention such a major piece of legislation is getting. I poked around Google News and found only opinion pieces. CNN’s web page search showed up nothing. It took going to Fox News to find an actual bit of REPORTING on the matter.)
This measure is beyond stupid. It is beyond corrupt. It is a perversion of one of the tenets of our freedom, and the would-be dictators who put it up have no business holding office — or any position of authority — in a free, democratic state.