Thursday, November 4, 2010

Corporate-Backed, Anti-Union ‘Secret Ballot’ Measures Pass in Four States

By James Parks
AFL-CIO Now Blog

While most voters were focused on the economy in Tuesday’s elections, a corporate front group slipped in constitutional amendments in four states—Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah—in an orchestrated attempt to pre-empt the proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act. If enacted, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would give workers more options when they consider joining a union.

The four so-called “Secret Ballot” Amendments all contained similar language. For example, the Arizona measure, known as Prop. 113, would “guarantee” the right to vote by secret ballot in “elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or designations or authorizations of employee representation.”

The most recent version of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) (H.R. 1409, S. 560) was introduced last year and has languished in Congress. In 2007, the measure passed the House but failed to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate.

The four amendments were backed by Save Our Secret Ballot, a Las Vegas-based organization whose national advisory board is filled with former Republican members of Congress, Republican state elected officials and representatives of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Goldwater Institute.

During a forum yesterday for the National Journal, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said workers will continue to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) because it is a “very, very essential part of the [economic] recovery.”

Our [economy] is 72 percent driven by consumer spending. If people don’t have money in their pockets, they can’t spend….What we need is the ability to sit down with our employers so we can work together, so we can be profitable together and share in that profit and build an economy from the bottom up.

Kimberly Freeman Brown, executive director of American Rights At Work, said in a statement that the four ballot measures are a telling indication of just how far those corporate interests will go to maintain a status quo that protects exploitative employers, no matter the cost to ordinary Americans. Disingenuously framed as worker protection, these initiatives aim to amend the state’s constitution to restrict workers’ rights to determine how they choose a union.

No comments: