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DeMint to Introduce Bill to Guarantee Secret Ballot Union Elections

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

DeMint to Introduce Bill to Guarantee Secret Ballot Union Elections

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced he will sponsor The Secret Ballot Protection Act to ensure the right of American workers to have a secret ballot election when voting on whether to unionize.

"This bill will guarantee that every American worker gets a secret ballot election," said Senator DeMint. "Right now, employers can be pressured by unions to deny workers their right to a secret ballot election. Americans should have the right to choose for themselves, without fear of retribution, whether it is in their best interest to hand off their workplace decisions to a union and that charges them dues."

Under current law, employers can recognize unions based on card checks, or they can insist upon an election administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Secret Ballot Protection Act would prevent intimidation by union bosses or employers of workers. It would also prevent unions from bullying businesses into acknowledging unions without elections. The legislation would guarantee workers the opportunity to cast a secret ballot before a union can be organized.

"The secret ballot is a basic American value that we must protect. In all of my time in Congress, I have never had a constituent tell me they want to give up their right to vote by secret ballot. I cannot imagine why we would force a worker to make such an important decision in public rather than in private, especially with so many documented cases of union intimidation."

Today, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) is scheduled to chair a hearing on H.R. 800, misleadingly named The Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation would allow the unionization process to be opened to coercion by limiting the ability of the NLRB to ensure a fair process that protects the rights and privacy of working Americans.

In contrast to labor union's undemocratic legislative attempts, Americans overwhelmingly support the secret ballot. A January 2007 survey by McLaughlin & Associates found that 87 percent of general-election voters agree "that every worker should continue to have the right to a federally-supervised, secret-ballot election when deciding whether to organize a union."

Union members also support the secret ballot. In a 2004 nationwide survey, Zogby International found that 84 percent of union workers stated workers should have the right to vote on whether or not they wish to belong to a union and 63 percent agreed that stronger laws are needed to protect the existing secret-ballot process.

Since 1935, workers have had the right to join or form a labor union and to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and working conditions by collecting signed authorizations from at least 30 percent of the workforce. These signatures are then used to petition the NLRB to supervise an election. These elections are required to be held within 60 days and the NLRB follows procedures that ensure a fair election, free of fraud, where employees may vote confidentially without peer pressure or coercion from unions or employers.

Numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have criticized the union attempts to intimidate workers through their card check policy and upheld the fundamental rights of workers to engage in secret ballot votes.

• "We would be closing our eyes to obvious difficulties, of course, if we did not recognize that there have been abuses, primarily arising out of misrepresentations by union organizers as to whether the effect of signing a card was to designate the union to represent the employee for collective bargaining purposes or merely to authorize it to seek an election to determine that issue." (NLRB v. Gissel Packing Co., Supreme Court of the United States, 1969)

• "Freedom of choice is a matter at the very center of our national labor relations policy, and a secret election is the preferred method of gauging choice." (Avecor v. NLRB, D.C. Circuit, 1991)

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