Who is against EFCA? Elected officials from both parties, public intellectuals, distinguished academics and other leaders have all voiced opposition to the deceptively-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). These thinkers reiterate two main concerns about the misnamed legislation. First, EFCA will effectively eliminate workers’ right to a secret ballot election when choosing whether or not to join a union. Second, the economic consequences of EFCA will be catastrophic.
- George McGovern – Former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.
The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.
- Rev. Al Sharpton – American Baptist minister, political and civil rights/social justice activist, and radio talk show host.
What I don’t understand about it which is why I’m in the campaign is why wouldn’t those of us who support workers being protected, why would we not want their privacy protected. I mean why would we want them opened up to this kind of possible coercion?
- Richard Epstein – Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Visiting Professor at NYU
The Supreme Court (unfortunately, in my view) has held that the peculiar labor-law environment justified these abridgements of ordinary speech rights. But it hardly follows that if the government can curtail speech rights, the EFCA can eliminate them. There is simply no legitimate government interest in promoting unionization that justifies a clandestine organizing campaign which denies all speech rights to the unions’ adversaries.
- Ariella Bernstein – Formerly deputy director of public affairs at FMCS and a field examiner and supervisor at the NLRB
I am a Democrat who has worked at both the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), two agencies that figure prominently in this legislation [Employee Free Choice Act]. I believe we need a better understanding of the problems before signing on to this bill as the solution.
- Jack Welch – Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric. Named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune Magazine.
Companies today can’t afford such petty bureaucracy or the other excesses unions so often lead to, such as two people for every job and a litigious approach to even the smallest matters. Yes, managers and employees will sometimes disagree. But in the global economy, they have to work through those differences not as adversaries but as partners. The Employee Free Choice Act undermines that.
- George Will – Syndicated columnist
What unions are trying to sell is decreasingly attractive to potential members, so unions are doing what declining businesses often do: They are seeking government protection, in the form of a law to insulate them from the rigors of competition. They want government to allow them to, in effect, silence the employers’ side of debates about the merits of unionization.
- Gary Becker – Nobel Prize Winner, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago
Any substantial shift of federal and state governments toward pro-union regulations would harm the American economy and the position of the typical employee. As Posner indicates, unions want greater monopoly power so that they can raise the wages and other benefits of union members above their competitive levels. Unfortunately, the effects of this are to reduce earnings for non-union workers, shift production outside the US, or toward states with less pro-union laws, and shift production in unionized plants away from labor and toward capital. None of these changes are beneficial to the efficiency and performance of the American economy, especially in a global environment.
- Elaine Chao – U.S. Secretary of Labor, 2001-2009
A worker’s right to a secret ballot election is an intrinsic right in our democracy that should not be legislated away at the behest of special interest groups
- Richard Posner – Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh District, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago
We especially do not need an uptick in adversarial unionism during what increasingly appears to be a depression. The fact that Democrats in Congress should be pressing for a revival of the union movement at this time indicates a lack of understanding of the economics of depressions.
- Richard Ebeling – Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, Shelby C. Davis Visiting Professor in Economics at Trinity College.
Organized labor now expects a payback. The name of that payback is the Employee Free Choice Act, which is intended not to guarantee workers a free choice, but to give union officials a free ride. With the U.S. economy on the ropes, this is an unnecessary bailout bill America clearly can’t afford. Its price tag would be far too high: a loss of individual freedom for many rank-and-file workers and further erosion of U.S. competitiveness.
- Froma Harrop – Syndicated columnist
Whatever a new President Obama and his supercharged Democratic majorities owe labor can be paid in other ways. The ridiculously named Employee Free Choice Act really is disturbing and undemocratic and can be easily caricatured as such by the Republican opposition. It is also bad PR for unions. If they have so much to offer, why are they afraid of a secret ballot?
- Rosemary Elebash – State Director, National Federation of Independent Business
Small business creates most of this country’s jobs and is the heart and soul of Alabama’s economy, employing about half the state’s workforce. But this powerful economic engine could quit running if the labor unions succeed in getting Congress to pass a law allowing them to bypass secret ballots in favor of something called card check.
- James Sherk – Bradley Fellow in Labor Policy in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation
‘The union’s organizers refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer, recounted Ivey, 51, a materials handler at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s plant in Gaffney. If you told one group of organizers you were not interested, the next time they would send someone else.’
- Peter Morici – Professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission
House Democrats have passed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would replace secret ballots for certifying unions with card check. Curiously, proponents argue that workers in private voting booths are subject to arm twisting they would not be if offered a signature card by a husky union organizer in the washroom.
- Russell Roberts – Professor of Economics at George Mason University and a distinguished scholar at the University’s Mercatus Center.
But maybe unions aren’t so crucial to worker well-being. When more than 90% of the private-sector labor force isn’t unionized, why do 97% of us earn above the minimum wage? If our bargaining power is so pitiful, why don’t greedy employers exploit us and drive wages down to the legal minimum?
- Keith Godin – Policy Analyst, Fraser Institute Centre for Entrepreneurship and Markets
- Ed Feulner – President, The Heritage Foundation
But choice is the key component, and some in Congress are eager to take the country in the wrong direction here, too. Take the ironically named Employee Free Choice Act. It would actually endanger a right millions of American workers enjoy: the right to choose whether to join a union.
This law would replace the secret ballot – a simple vote, like the one millions of Americans will cast this fall for president – with a system of card checks. If union organizers could pressure enough workers to publicly sign a card saying they want to join a union, a company would be unionized. Union organizers and other pro-union employees could easily intimidate undecided workers – hardly giving them a fair choice.
- Gary Shapiro (quoted in article) – CEO, Consumer Electronics Association
“The tech industry has been asleep on the switch on this one,” Shapiro told The Hill. “If you want to devastate our country economically and shut us down every week with a strike, card-check is the answer.”
- Paul Kersey – Director of Labor Policy, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Despite the nice-sounding title, the legislation actually deprives employers and workers of their rights. Far from fixing a broken labor law, it only creates new problems.
- Diana Furchtgott-Roth – Former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Center for Employment Policy
But politicians have no way of knowing whether the cards are genuine, or how many workers are in these groups to calculate that percentage. They are simply grateful for labor’s help in regaining Congress, and willing to repay the debt by setting themselves up as verifiers of illegal elections.
- Paul E. Wagner – Adjunct Professor Cornell University School of Hotel Management
- David S. Sherwyn – Assistant Professer of Law at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
- Jason Klemens – Director of Research Quality and Resident Scholar in Fiscal Studies at the Fraser Institute
Workers should possess the ability to organize collectively and gain representation through unions. However, that process must be fair and balanced, and must adhere to the core tenets of democracy. Two of these requirements are anonymous voting through secret ballot and the timely disclosure of detailed financial information. Such requirements allow for a fair and democratic choice that is reasonably informed. Anything less than this represents an undemocratic process. The challenge for union leaders is to start living by their own words and principles.
- Patrick J. Bannon – Partner, McCarter & English
BLAMING its lack of appeal with private-sector workers on employer intimidation and trickery, organized labor is pushing Congress and President-elect Obama to pass the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ A more accurate title would be the Union Expansion at All Costs Act. In the name of strengthening unions, the bill would jettison two bedrock principles that workers and management should both defend.
- Todd Stottlemyer – CEO, National Federation of Independent Business
America was built on the idea that true choice comes in the privacy of a voting booth. In a secret ballot, employees aren’t subject to intimidation, harassment or other coercion. In addition, the current election process guarantees companies a six-month period in which they are given an opportunity to discuss with their employees why they shouldn’t join a union.
- Thomas J. Donohue – CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Indeed, during election campaigns, workers can face real pressure from unions, from employers and from co-workers. But Card Check will make this worse. Forcing workers to sign cards publicly is simply an open invitation for harassment, coercion and intimidation that would make current organizing practices seem tame by comparison.
- John R. Lott Jr. – Senior Research Scientist (Law), University of Maryland
Obama may feel that card-check will help US workers, or he may simply believe he needs to reward Big Labor for its support. Either way, ending secret-ballot union votes is guaranteed to make the country – and most workers – poorer.”
- Charles Baird – Emeritus Professor of Economics, California State University at East Bay
A predictable effect of the bill is that it would extinguish free choice. Unions solicit signatures on authorization cards face to face. Any worker who declines to sign is “urged” to reconsider. If he continues to refuse he is likely to be accused of being anti-union—he becomes a person to be ridiculed, ostracized, threatened, and even worse. Union organizers, who have a well-earned reputation for being less than peaceful when it comes to getting their way, may know where the worker and his family live, what cars they drive, where they travel.When faced with those, at least implicit, threats, all but the most courageous workers will cave in and sign. Collecting signatures from a majority under such circumstances reveals nothing about the uncoerced free choice of those workers.
- Jerry Bowyer – Chief Economist, Benchmark Financial Network
Put another way: The Employee Free Choice Act is a great idea if you want the entire stock market to perform like General Motors.
- Bernie Marcus – Co-founder of Home Depot
I’m not opposed to unions, but I am opposed to this act because it will make American companies uncompetitive in the global marketplace and ultimately send jobs offshore. I’m also opposed to the dishonesty of some EFCA supporters who claim that worker coercion by employers in union elections is the norm. No data published by the National Labor Relations Board support this wild accusation. In fact, NLRB data prove the opposite. It is troubling that some in the media and perhaps in Congress continue to rely upon discredited studies. Their readers and constituents deserve better.
- Don Thompson (quoted in article) – President of McDonald’s USA
“[The Employee Free Choice Act] if enacted, will impact the McDonald’s system.”
- Randy Hansford – Executive Vice President, Rockspring Development, Inc.
Employees are smart and informed and in the end, they will vote for what is right for them. Providing facts, allowing open discussions, and casting a private vote is the only fair way to conduct an election. Casting a vote alone in a room with union organizers, asking for a signature is beyond reason.
- Roger Nicholson – General Counsel, International Coal Group
Workers and readers should ask the UMW the following questions: Why do you oppose a well-established, secret-ballot election process that has effectively protected workers for decades? Does the union fear secret-ballot elections because it doesn’t provide sufficient opportunity for union intimidation to unduly influence an election’s outcome?
- J. Hamilton Stewart, III – Lawyer
Employer neutrality and union recognition by card check are tools unions use to bolster their shrinking numbers. Employee free-informed choice and the sanctity of a democratic, secret-ballot National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election are the casualties of this fast-track approach to organizing.
- Chris Fisher – Executive Director, Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan
Far from allowing free choice, the bill would actually strip away what is a hallmark of democracy – the right to a secret ballot.
The act, also known as the card check bill, is a flawed proposal designed mainly to boost union membership.
Participation in organized labor has diminished in the past few decades, and unions are desperate for new members.
The proposed law – which should more aptly be called the Employee No-Choice Act – would publicly rob workers of their fundamental right to a secret-ballot election that guarantees against threats, intimidation or coercion.
- John A. McFarland – CEO & Chairman, Baldor Electric Company
I believe the Card Check Legislation, if enacted, will force American jobs overseas. As a nation, we need to promote strategies that encourage manufacturing in our country and not strategies such as Card Check Legislation that will discourage manufacturing here and threaten American jobs.
- Richard Lord – President, Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act would effectively eliminate the NLRB supervised election process, instead permitting labor organizations that have obtained a majority (however narrow) of employees through signed authorization cards to present the cards to the employer and establish themselves as the employees’ representative. This situation is troubling, since NLRB case law is full of examples where the use of card checks have been challenged on grounds of coercion, misrepresentation, forgery, fraud, peer pressure, and promised benefits. The elimination of the secret ballot would, in our view, only cast doubt on the legitimacy of organizing activity, and threaten the freedom of American workers.