Op-Ed: Union Card-Check Bill Would Hurt Workers, Small Business
In these challenging times, we as a nation should be striving to rebuild the solid foundation upon which we can enjoy sustained growth and increasing prosperity. We need to preserve free-market enterprise. Businesses around the country need the flexibility to grow and change with their markets, and employees need the freedom to negotiate their hours and salaries with their employers.
As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have seen the troubling path that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Democratic majority has set us on. Exploding deficits, a national energy tax and a push for government takeover of health care all mark an onslaught of efforts that American small business can ill afford -- but the pain doesn't stop there. The so-called Employee Free Choice Act, or card-check legislation, is lurking in the wings, awaiting the Senate leadership to bring it up for a vote. The House passed it last session, but Congressional Democrats have said it is up to the Senate to get it started this time.
In sum, this bill would harm workers and businesses by changing the unionization process so drastically that the only ones who would benefit are the labor bosses. Currently, when unions are unable to deliver on campaign promises, employees may be dissatisfied and reject the contract or even vote to decertify the union. Under the bill, the secret ballot process for choosing to organize is taken away in favor of a card-check process, and a binding arbitration clause demands that a government arbitrator be brought in to settle any contract negotiation that lasts longer than 120 days.
There is tremendous irony in this debate. In 2001, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-California), the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, wrote to officials in Mexico to advocate for secret ballots for union elections. He wrote that the "secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." In my view, the American worker should be afforded the same opportunity that Mr. Miller urged for workers in Mexico. To strip this right from workers runs counter to the very principles of freedom and liberty that generations of Americans have fought to protect since our nation's founding.
Employees must be given a fair choice in their decision to unionize. Card check would take that away by not only removing the secret ballot from workers but also by allowing the government to mandate contracts on small businesses without the consent or support of the employee or employer. Government arbitrators with no expertise or understanding about a small business' industry would make decisions about wages, benefits and workplace conditions.
The damages this would bring to businesses are far-reaching -- job loss, bankruptcy, the crippling of entrepreneurship. Some Democrats in the Senate have recently been discussing a compromise that they claim would remove the threat to workers that this bill brings. Know that there is no compromise that is acceptable on this bill. We can do without another government grab for control over employment decisions.
The best way to spur a sustained recovery would be to unleash the ingenuity of the American entrepreneur and the drive of the American worker, not hang additional "government knows best" burdens and hindrances on these engines of growth and prosperity.