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Roe, Phil


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The Secret Ballot Protection Act

Washington, March 10, 2011 -

For the past two years, unions have aggressively been seeking to do away with the right to a secret ballot in favor of their preferred method of recognition: a simple check of signed cards requesting a union. Card-check allows the workplace to be organized if 50% of workers at the site sign a union card.  For me, there is no right more precious for any American than the right to a secret ballot.  It’s how the President of the United States, members of Congress, and even union leaders are elected.  I strongly believe in preserving the individual worker’s right to vote by secret ballot before joining a union, and I am pleased that card- check legislation did not advance. From an economic and a regulatory standpoint, we must continue to protect the individual’s right to a secret ballot.

Rather than continuing this assault on workers’ rights, I believe it’s time we permanently strengthen workers’ freedoms.  That is why I introduced the Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) – legislation on the side of every American worker because it protects his or her right to a secret ballot.  This legislation will not only protect against any attempts to implement card check, but it will also ensure individual workers have a say in their representation even if employers voluntarily allow the formation of a union. 

Since unions have not been able to get card check legislation passed in Congress, many are concerned that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will attempt to bypass the will of Congress.  Already, the NLRB is looking to overturn established workers’ rights to a secret ballot.  Passage of the SBPA will prevent card-check from happening and alleviate concerns.

Specifically, the SBPA prevents companies from negotiating with a union that does not receive the support of a majority of the workers in a secret ballot vote, and prohibits card-check recognition.  The SBPA will also protect the workers from being negatively affected by any sweetheart deals between unions and management because the SBPA prohibits such negotiations.

Without secret ballots, workers are susceptible to intimidation, harassment, pressure and potentially threats to vote in a certain way.  Card-check causes a high pressure and one-sided sales pitch. Alternatively, the SBPA empowers workers to make informed choices and protects workers from this sort of intimidation.

Unions want to expand, and they believe they can grow through tactics such as card-check.  I have no problem with employees who want to form a union, but the process to establish a union must be open, transparent and fair.  Transparency and openness begins with ensuring every worker the right to make his or her own decision about whether they want to be in a union, free from intimidation or coercion – by the union or the employer.

The SBPA is good for the health of the economy because it invests more in jobs. It does so by promoting labor peace.  Workers who are allowed to express their views in how they are represented will not cause unrest as we’ve seen before in instances where they’re not allowed a say.. 

Card-check is an invasion of privacy on the individual worker, and the right to a secret ballot should be protected. I believe that our states and their workers should be able to fight this on a level legal playing field. The SBPA will ensure the NLRB does not overstep its bounds by using any backdoor tactics to enact card-check.  As Chair of the Health, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee, I will continue to protect jobs and the American worker.