As the country begins to turn away from Conservatism and Bush and depression runs deep in their veins, there does seem to be a phrase that lifts up their spirits. Everybody stand up and say "Card Check."
It's also known as the Employee Free Choice Act. And its progress in Congress has every corporate Fat Cat in America leaping into frenzied action. One of them, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, is saying that any corporate type who isn't on board in their fight against Card Check should be shot.
It's an obvious attack on unions and we need to be aware of this. Orrin Hatch loves to go on MSNBC, CNN or the National Review and proclaim that there will be no more secret ballots for workers so civilization in America will be destroyed:
In a time when unions are outraged with Democrats for their pro-immigration policies, big labor has launched an unprecedented lobbying campaign to force workers into unions. Labor unions are supposed to protect workers’ rights, yet union bosses want Congress to pass a law that actually robs workers of their democratic right to a private ballot.
That's all you get out of them. I doubt most Conservatives even know what a "Card Check" is, but it really riles them up.
The unions are just trying to make it easier for people to organize.
The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would enable working people to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers’ freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. It would:
- Establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.
- Provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes (PDF).
- Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
Frank Luntz and his friends are trying to say that unionizing will be all about busting heads like Sylvester Stallone did in his movie called F.I.S.T.. I was talking to Digby about it the other day and we both laughed at this new meme being passed around. But it's a serious one that we should not dismiss out of hand. They are laying the groundwork for average Americans who don't understand what the unions are doing, and will be offended by the "card check" plan for no reason at all other than what they've heard repeatedly on wingnut radio. Digby calls it "Pavlovian talk radio conditioning."
Ted Stevens loses his seat in Alaska? No problem, just yell "Card Check!"
It's Time to Give Voters the Liberalism They Want
During the campaign, you will recall, the debate over card check was supposed to be about principle, about democracy, about the sacredness of the secret ballot. However, as I pointed out a few months ago, union-certification elections often don't meet the most basic democratic requirements. Supervisors routinely hold captive-audience meetings with workers in preparation for elections; management commonly threatens to close up shop if the union wins; antiunion employees are frequently rewarded and pro-union employees are sometimes fired.
So it may not surprise you to learn that democracy isn't really the main concern of card-check's opponents. It's unions themselves. Changing the rules will make it easier to organize them.
The economic crisis, particularly the Big 3 meltdown, is offering the right what they see as a new opportunity to break unions and destroy any advances workers might have expected under a progressive government. They may be temporarily in disarray politically, but the right never forgets their primary mission --- protecting the wealthy. And they are very good at advancing that agenda whether in the majority or the minority. Under the Shock Doctrine, they have a perfect opportunity to end the union movement in America and they'll certainly do their best to take advantage of the moment.