EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT OF 2007--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - June 26, 2007)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, first let me thank my friends and colleagues, Senator Hatch and Senator Enzi, for their hard work on the card check issue. They have been passionate and persuasive in defending worker rights. The Republican conference and the American worker are grateful.
We heard a lot yesterday from supporters of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act about the potential effect this bill would have in expanding unions. But we heard next to nothing from them about how it would bring that about. The way we do things in this country is just as important as what we do. This is what has always set us apart as a nation. So it is important we be clear about what this bill would do and how and why it must be defeated.
First, what would it do? Sixty years ago, Congress gave Americans the same voting rights at work they had always enjoyed outside of work. Worker intimidation was common during union organizing drives in those days, so Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to include a right for workers to vote for or against a union without somebody looking over their shoulder.
As a result, a lot of workers stopped joining unions. Since the 1950s, the number of unionized workers in our country has fallen sharply. For one reason or another, voters opted out. This is their choice. Today, less than 8 percent of private sector jobs in our country are unionized. The so-called Employee Free Choice Act would reverse that law. It would strip workers of a 60-year-old right that was created to protect them from coercion, rolling back the basic worker protection that no one has questioned until now. This is what the bill would do.
Who is behind it? It should be obvious. The unions are desperate. They are losing the game, and now they want to change the rules. But in this case the rule they want to change happens to be one that is so deeply engrained in our democratic traditions that few people would believe it is even being debated today on the Senate floor. Surveys show that 9 out of 10 Americans oppose rolling back the right to a private ballot at the workplace, including an astonishing 91 percent of Democrats. Indeed, many of our colleagues on the other side have defended the secret ballot with passion and eloquence in the past. This is why we hear about the effects but not the cause.
The Democrats are rolling over in support of this antidemocratic bill. All but two Democrats in the House voted against their version of it in March. I expect even fewer Senate Democrats will defect from the party line today. They know the bill will fail. Senate and House Republicans have vowed to block it. The President has vowed to veto it. Yet Senate Democrats are forcing us to vote on it anyway. Why? As the senior Senator from Delaware told a reporter yesterday:
I'll be completely candid ..... I would not miss that vote because of the importance to labor.
Republicans appreciate the candor, and we will be candid too. This antidemocratic bill will be defeated today, but it will not be forgotten. Republicans will remind our constituents about the fact that Democrats proposed to strip workers of their voting rights. No one can put voting rights on the table and expect to get away with it.
For Democrats, the end in this case clearly justifies the means. But the American people disagree with the means and the end. Voting in this country is sacred, and it is secret.
Republicans will stand together in defense of that basic right today by proudly defeating this dangerous and antidemocratic bill.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.