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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC




S. 1173. A bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure the right of employees to a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, today I introduce the Secret Ballot Protection Act, a measure that would amend the National Labor Relations Act, NLRA, to ensure the right of employees to a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, when deciding whether to be represented by a labor organization.

The legislation would prohibit a union from being recognized based on a ``card check'' campaign. Under a card check system, a union gathers authorization cards purportedly signed by workers expressing their desire for the union to represent them. By their very nature, card checks strip employees of the right to choose freely, safely, and anonymously, whether to unionize and leave them open to harassment, intimidation, and union pressure.

The bill also addresses the increasing pressure faced by employers from union bosses to recognize unions based on a card check campaign and forego the customary secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, which gives workers the ability to vote their conscience without fear of reprisal.

Under current law, employers may voluntarily recognize unions based on these card checks, but are not required to do so. However, threats, boycotts, and other forms of public pressure are increasingly being used to force employers to recognize unions based on a card-check rather than the customary secret ballot election. The need for legislation to protect workers' rights could not be more clear.

It is no secret that hostile campaigns against American businesses to discredit employers have become a key organizing tactic used by union bosses across the country. These and other pressure tactics are often designed to hurt employers, their workers, and the economy, unless the demands of union leaders are met. It is wrong that union bosses are using these types of tactics at the expense of secret ballot elections, depriving rank-and-file workers of the ability to freely vote their conscience without fear of retaliation.

The Secret Ballot Protection Act will preserve the integrity of workers' freedom of choice and the right to a secret ballot election; it will protect workers from fear, threats, misinformation, and coercion by a union or coworkers to sign union authorization cards; and it will eliminate a union's ability to coercively terrorize an employer into recognition under duress. These fundamental protections can be achieved by simply requiring unions to win a majority of worker support in an anonymous, secret ballot election which eliminates the shroud of union intimidation tactics.

Supporting the right to a private vote and outlawing the corrupt card check practice of allowing union thugs to bully, harass, and scare workers who object to union membership is absolutely critical to democracy and freedom of choice.

Secret ballots are an absolutely essential ingredient for any functioning democratic system. The lack of secret ballot elections is how oppressive regimes manage to stay in power without majority support. Repelling such oppression hinges on the ability to walk into a voting booth, pull the curtain, and vote for anyone or anything we please with confidence the vote will be counted but never revealed to anyone who could use the knowledge to retaliate.

Evidence clearly demonstrates that secret ballot elections are more accurate indicators than card checks of whether employees actually wish to be recognized by a union. Numerous court decisions echo this fact. For example, in the case NLRB v. S.S. Logan Packing Co., the court said:

It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wishes of employees than a card check, unless it were an employer's request for an open show of hands. The one is no more reliable than the other.

There is no question that card checks leave employees open to harassment, intimidation, and union pressure. Workers' democratic rights should be protected, and the Secret Ballot Protection Act will make sure that happens by preserving the secret ballot election process. This important measure would guarantee workers the right to an anonymous, secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB and eliminate the use of intimidation and threats by organizers to coerce workers into joining a union.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

S. 1173


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