During a debate last night with former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) reiterated his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
The EFCA would allow workers at a company to unionize by signing cards of consent, instead of having to undergo a full unionization campaign and vote. However, Sununu said that the bill “would take away the worker’s right to a secret ballot,” and that workers would “have to tell everyone” what their choice was when deciding whether or not to unionize:
This legislation would take away the worker’s right to a secret ballot when deciding whether or not they want a union. Signing a card is a public act and when you have to tell everyone what your choice is, how you’re voting, you become subject to intimidation. Maybe intimidation by other workers, maybe intimidation by employers. Either way, the worker’s right is compromised.
Watch the video here.
Sununu has also said that the EFCA “would force workers to stand up and declare their vote in front of both union bosses and employers,” and that the act could “potentially erode the foundations of free elections everywhere else.”
Contrary to Sununu’s assertion, the EFCA “would not eliminate traditional elections.” Instead, it would prevent employers from forcing their workers into a secret ballot election, and mandates that employers “recognize the majority sign-up process whether they like it or not.”
It’s important that workers be allowed to avoid an election, if they so choose. As David Madland wrote “workers considering forming a union face an undemocratic system that permits intimidation. Employers legally can force workers to attend anti-union meetings, including ‘one-on-one conversations’ with supervisors, which happens in over 90 percent of organizing campaigns.”
Furthermore, “even after workers successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers do not negotiate a contract.” The EFCA would “strengthen penalties for such labor law violations and prevent employers from delaying first-contract negotiations.”
Sununu is not alone among conservative lawmakers in opposing the EFCA. Earlier this month, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called it the “most insidious bill” he’s seen during his time in Congress, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called it a “threat” to democracy. Both Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have characterized it as “un-American.”
However, there is nothing “un-American” about easing the path towards unionization for American’s workers. Or maybe the 60 million U.S. workers who “would join a union if they could” are all un-American too.