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Reason Foundation

Union Against Union

Shikha Dalmia
July 2, 2009, 10:45pm

Guess who is now expressing concern that scrapping the right of workers to hold a secret ballot before forming a union - as the so-called card check bill would do -- will lead to intimidation and harassment of workers by union apparatchiks?

Evil Republicans? No. Those rapacious exploiters at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? Nah. Reactionaries at the Reason Foundation. Wrong again.

The correct answer is: The Service Employees International Union. Yup - you heard it right. The very same union that has been at the forefront of pushing the card check bill otherwise called the Employee No Choice - oops, sorry! - Free Choice Act in Congress.

But before anyone gets too excited, bear in mind that SEIU has not formally withdrawn its support for this travesty. However, it basically ceded the case of the bill's critics recently when it challenged its rival, National Union of Healthcare Workers', attempt to represent nearly 100,000 of its members in California. SEIU claimed that the National Union's modus operandi, which involved asking workers to sign a petition, might not reflect the true feelings of the workers because they might have felt pressured to sign!

The irony isn't lost on the National Union Vice President John Borsos, who told Los Angeles Times reporter Paul Pringle: "The SEIU is advocating free choice for every employee in the United States, unless you're an SEIU member." I wouldn't call a card-check process "free choice" -- but you get the point.

Incidentally, the bill, whose prospects had been near dead in Congress, thanks to the threat of a Republican filibuster, had gotten a shot in the arm with the seating of EFCA-supporter Al Franken to the Senate last week and Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to switch his position, yet again, after he moved over to the Democratic side of the aisle.

At a recent union rally, Specter assured attendees that they should disregard his previous opposition to the bill. "I believe you will be satisfied with my vote on this issue," he said.

It remains to be seen if Specter's switch will be cancelled by the SEIU's to neutralize the bill yet again!

Film at Eleven.


Shikha Dalmia is Senior Analyst


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