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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Doing away with secret ballots

Tampa, FL - One of the most fundamental tenants of our election system is the secret ballot. This method of voting allows voters to cast their vote without fear of recrimination by either the winning party or sore losers. The voter may express their choice free of peer pressure, glaring looks from parents or spouses and even the raised eyebrows of children who think they know everything.

In the old days, and even some rare cases now days, the secret ballot prevented violence against voters. A sheriff's race this last November in the Florida Pan Handle that got so hot that people were actually being stopped by sheriff's deputies for have the wrong bumper sticker on their car. Imagine what it would have been like if the losing incumbent sheriff knew who voted against him. That little stretch of time before the new sheriff was sworn in could have been very nerve racking fro those that voted against the old sheriff.

Now lets take that to a whole different level. We are talking far more personal where the results of that vote could effect your employment, your standing in the community and even your future for some time to come.

Imagine your place of employment is undergoing a union vote. Things are getting very heated between union supporters and those that are happy with the way things are. The employer is putting the pressure on, the union organizers are pressuring you every chance they get, friends at work are pressuring you in both directions and the over all environment is getting very ugly. There have been shoving matches in the parking lot. Some vandalism of cars. Several people have been reassigned or had their hours or jobs cut because for purely business reasons, but they are also big union cheer leaders. People have had very aggressive visits at their homes by union organizers not prepared to accept "no" or "I prefer not to discuss it" as an answer.

So the big day comes. The vote is going to be taken. Thank all that is Holy and a number of things that aren't that no one but you will know how you voted. If the union gets in and you voted against it, no one will ever know. If the union does not get in and you voted for it, your employer will never know. The best part is that friends and colleagues will not be treating you as if you just crawled out of the outhouse pit.

But now that cherished portion of American tradition is in serious jeopardy.

President Barack Obama told AFL-CIO union leaders Tuesday in a videotaped address that the controversial Employee Free Choice Act will pass, signaling his full backing for legislation that makes union organizing easier.

"We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act," President Obama told more than 100 top labor officials in a closed-door meeting at the labor federation's winter gathering in Miami, according to people at the meeting.

The Wall Street Journal: President Tells Unions Organizing Act Will Pass

Well now isn't that special. Sounds like the unions are calling in the note on the election and the President is stepping up to pay with interest.

The program the President is promising to sign into law is also known as the "Check Card" system. That would allow union organizers to unionize any place of employment by simply getting a majority of people to sign the cards. It would do away with currently required secret ballot election.

Effectively what this does is allow the unions to get signatures, maybe even in secret, while denying the employer a chance to state their case. Perhaps even robbing workers of vital knowledge. For example: Within a month after unionizing this job site, your job will move to Taiwan.

There are some heavily union regions, especially Chicago, Detroit and New York, where that change in the law will effectively force unions down the throats of  80% percent of business.  We're talking everyone from Arby's to Zoo Keepers.

Think about this for a minute. Two large men approach you, maybe even outside your home, and shove a card in your hands. One of them says, "We want you should sign 'dis card. Yo Rocko, help 'dis nice person find a pen."

The other one says, "You gots a nice house here. Pretty daughter too. I want she should stay pretty, don't you?"

What are you going to do at that point? Refuse to sign the card?

In a milder example, let's think about the situation outlined above. You could have close friends and colleagues pressing the card in your hands with words like, "Do the right thing for all of us" when you know in your heart it is not the right thing. But the peer pressure is incredible when people you like and work with are standing there looking you in the eye. We all want to please our friends and not all that many will stand up to friends under that kind of group pressure.

The last thing we need to do in this country is make it easier for a union to be forced on a company. We have shipped enough jobs to the Pacific Rim and Mexico.

If this passes, it will be the most devastating blow yet to our floundering economy. The number of businesses that would fold or flee the country rather then endure the headaches of dealing with a union is a damn site higher then anyone from the left will admit.

The more I listen to President Obama or read what he has to say, the worse and worse our future looks. The President's legacy is already shaping up to make President Roosevelt and his "Brain Trust" look conservative.

Author's Note: I have been in a total of seven unions over the course of my life. As close as I can tell checking tonight I am still considered an active member in four of them, inactive in one and there is no way to find out on the other two tonight. With one small exception, none of those unions did anything for me except take a percentage of my paycheck and then give some of that to people I wouldn't vote for in my worse nightmare. In two union jobs I would have earned a higher salary if I were non-union but was held at the union scale because of the contract.

It is my experience that working under or around a union job makes for a work environment where it is difficult to get the job done without jumping through an extraordinary number of hoops. I have little patience for bullshit rules (other then safety) when I am trying to get a job done. I find unions to be extremely expensive not only from inflated wages and benefits, but also in stupid things like having an entire crew sitting on their collective butts waiting for someone from the right union to be found so four boxes can be unloaded from a truck. Or wait for a union member to move a TV camera cable out of a shot. (Got a grievance over that one… got tired of waiting.) Or having to pay a four digit "honorarium" (a bribe by any other name…) to a union boss so my non-union people can do their jobs on his union turf.

- 30 -

Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Kay Adams: What was that?
Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

- Al Pacino as Michael Corleone talking to Diane Keaton as Kay Adams in the movie "The Godfather"

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