'Card check' eliminates rights of employees
HAWAII'S Legislature is now considering House Bill 760, which would allow labor union organizers to use a so-called "card check" or "cross check" procedure to organize employees in voting for union representation. Congress is considering similar legislation, HR 800, with the Orwellian title "Employee Free Choice Act." This act would in fact deprive employees of their ability to freely choose whether to join a labor union.
Currently, voting on union representation is done by secret ballot. This card check bill would eliminate a fundamental protection of workers rights. In essence, union representatives could strong-arm employees individually -- in the employer's parking lot; in bars and restaurants; at home -- to sign a card saying the employee favored the idea of unionizing. If they declined to sign, the union organizers could keep sending people to badger them in the hope they would finally sign the card -- if only to get the union folks to leave them alone. If they kept refusing, the organizers would know they were opposed to the union, and they could retaliate against the holdouts.
This is the same as if union representatives were allowed to follow you into the voting booth, tell you who to vote for, and threaten your job or even your physical safety if you didn't toe the line. Would anyone put up with such a fundamental invasion of their right to privacy during an election?
The right to a secret ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy. Do we want to establish the dangerous precedent that secret elections are something that politicians have the power to take away from us if they can muster enough votes, rather than being an inalienable right that may not be infringed?
HB 760 and HR 800 aren't about fairness or helping workers. They're about union bosses seeking to increase their power by forcing unwilling employees into a union, where they will be required to pay dues.
Labor union membership nationally has been declining. In 1979, 24 percent of the nation's workforce was unionized. Today it's down to 12 percent. The vast majority of unionization is among government workers, with 36 percent of them unionized nationally, versus 7 percent among private employers. Why the vast discrepancy?
It comes down to this -- unionized workplaces are less efficient and competitive than non-union shops, and consumers have been voting with their feet. Non-union employers like Toyota, Honda, Southwest Airlines and Wal-Mart have been growing quickly by taking away the market share of GM, Ford and the "legacy" airlines and retailers. Government workers, on the other hand, are insulated from competition -- if you don't like the taxes the government charges, you can't just walk down the block and take your business to a competing government.
As of 2006, Hawaii ranks No. 1 as the most unionized state in the nation. Is it a coincidence that Hawaii has the fifth-highest combined local and state tax burden in the country, and the highest cost of living? Is it a coincidence that the four most unionized states (Hawaii, New York, Alaska and New Jersey) are all in the top five states with the highest cost of living?
Now that Democrats have taken over Congress and have further increased their huge dominance in Hawaii's Legislature, it is payback time for the unions who supported them. The union bosses expect a hefty return on their investment in campaign contributions, and the card-check bills are part of the spoils of war that they're trying to seize from you.
Rep. Colleen Meyer, a Republican, represents District 47 (Laie to Kaneohe).