Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

PRO Act Not the Only Threat to Worker Choice

Major Democrats including President Biden are pushing for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act as a way to boost their pals in Big Labor. The bill reads like a union wishlist. Its provisions do nothing to advance worker choice and everything to consolidate more power in the country’s labor unions.

If it becomes law, it would essentially eliminate the right to a secret ballot vote in union elections. Instead, the PRO Act would pave the way for unions to be elected mainly through a “card check” – a system by which employees sign public cards that signify their agreement to be represented by a union. But largely unregulated card checks can open workers up to intimidation, coercion and bullying. Still, they make organizing ambivalent employees much easier for unions, so the Left remains a big fan of the system.

But the PRO Act isn’t the only way the Left intends to bolster card checks. General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board Jennifer Abruzzo wants to prevent employers from refusing card checks in favor of secret ballot elections unless they have a “good faith basis for doing so.”

Instead, Abruzzo would like to raise from the dead a 73-year-old doctrine that has been wiped out by Supreme Court decisions for more than 50 years. Essentially, this so-called Joy Silk doctrine would create a “de facto card-check process” through which a union would become the authorized representative without ever going through an election.

But doing so would trample on one of the basic tenets of our democracy – the secret ballot vote. Instead, employees could be forced to sign a card without fully understanding the consequences. After all, there’s no rule that says union representatives have to tell employees exactly what signing a union card means. And once a union is in, it’s almost impossible for employees to kick them out.

That’s why it’s more apparent than ever that Congress needs to pass the Employee Rights Act (ERA) so that workers’ can have their right to a secret ballot preserved — regardless of who’s in charge at the NLRB.

Categories: Employee Rights ActWorkplace Election Integrity