a majority can’t
decide whether to vote, but
a minority can?
Forgive this politically-tinged interlude, but something’s been puzzling me having to do with the ongoing debate over something called the Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA, for those unaware, is a measure being considered as an addendum to the National Labor Relations Act that would change the options for workers seeking to join a union, as well as increase certain penalties for violations of the NLRA and add guidelines and time constraints for the initial collective-bargaining process.
One of the options that would be expanded by the EFCA is the process of majority sign-up, also referred to as card check. This is a process by which a majority of the workers in a workplace choose to join a union by signing authorization cards.
The other option for joining a union is an NLRB-administered election.
To be clear, both of these options have been, and continue to be, used extensively. But currently, the decision whether to use card check or an election to join a union is left to the employer. Under the EFCA, the decision would be made based on whether a majority of employees sign authorization cards.
Many who oppose the EFCA have argued that legislation undermines the secret-ballot election process. They argue that the root of democracy is in that voting process, and that nothing should stand in the way of that ideal (unless, of course, the employer is okay with eliminating it). It’s odd then that a minority of U.S. Senators who oppose the EFCA are perfectly willing to stand in the way of even allowing this measure to come up for a vote.
I support passage of the EFCA, but I know several respectable people who oppose it. Arlen Specter is not one of them.
He co-sponsored the legislation when it first came up, and as recently as 2007, he was willing to at least allow it to come to a vote. Two days ago he announced that he no longer believes the majority of his fellow Senators who support the bill should even have the right to vote on it. He stands with a minority that believes it should have the right to decide for everyone else.
It’s actually quite consistent with his position on the Employee Free Choice Act — that the minority (whether it be in Congress or a corporation) should have the final say on Democracy.