A letter writer to The Bismarck Tribune obviously doesn't think much of HR 800 or The Employee Free Choice Act. He believes that the bill is "oxymoronical" and should be called "The Employee Forced Choice Act". I decided to give the writer a pass on his over-syllabication because I hadn't done nearly enough research on this bill.
Consequently, the first thing I did was to actually read the bill, which has to do with the right of employees to form a union. If I waded correctly through the legalese, I'm surprised to find no mention of one of the most contentious debating points used especially by those who oppose it. The controversial point is that this "bill would take away the right to a secret ballot."
However, the bill does not offer direction on what methodology employees should use to decide whether they do or do not want to organize. In fact, the bill is clear that, if The National Labor Relations Board "finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations", "the Board shall not direct an election". The bill doesn't give the NLRB the power to force any method of determination upon the employees. The workers would be free to choose whether to decide to unionize through sign-up cards or through a secret ballot election.
To make his point, the letter writer uses The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As many of you know, this legislation has become known as The Stimulus Package or, to some, "The Stim". He says that, "Legislators admit they haven't even read the whole bill..." and calls this a "disturbing method of government".
On October 26, 2001, shortly after we were "attacked", President George W. Bush signed The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, otherwise known as The Patriot Act.
The writer may have gotten his cue from House Republican leader John Boehner. Congressman Boehner stood before the House, Stimulus Package in his hands, and called it "1100 pages that not one member of this body has read."
He then asked, "What happened to our promise that we were going to let the American people see what's in this bill for forty-eight hours?"
Finally, acting as if he didn't realize that he was holding an official legislative proposal upon which Congress was going to vote, he disrespectfully, a manner in which most Republicans have approached their jobs since the election of Barack Obama, dropped the bill on the floor.
Let's go back to The Patriot Act.
The reason we go back to The Patriot Act is because, in his documentary film, "Fahrenheit 9/11", Michael Moore exposes the fact that Congress, both houses, passed this "security bill" without the luxury of having read it. If we remember, and how can we forget, this "security bill" ultimately served to trespass upon a wide swath of personal liberties. If we think about Moore's exposé, we come to the conclusion that both Boehner, an obedient and staunch supporter of The Patriot Act, and the letter writer possess a memory deficiency. The other possibility is that these two men are less than honest when arguing for or against legislation.
Returning to the Employee Free Choice Act, the myth that it takes away an employee's right to a private ballot isn't the only problem that our letter writer has. "If you prefer not to be a union employee under EFCA, too bad," he writes.
After I didn't find anything in the bill which dictates what method workers are to use to vote for or against unionization, I didn't find anything in the bill which dictates that, if the majority of workers in a workplace vote to organize, all workers must join the union.
Having said that, the majority wins, winner-take-all society in which we live may influence the outcome of a vote and the consequence of voting to form a union may be that everyone working in that particular workplace will be expected to join. There have been so called "open shops" in the past, but no one knows what any particular workplace will do. The important thing is to remember that, even if the workplace is set up so that all who work in that workplace must join the union, there's nothing in HR 800 which decrees such an outcome. If a union in a particular workplace demands 100% participation, The Employee Free Choice Act will not be the reason for it. This weakens the writer's argument, to say the least.
We can look at laws that have been passed by Congress and ask ourselves if most of those laws have been passed for the benefit of society or to the detriment of society. Although there are laws with which many of us don't agree, it's my opinion that many members of Congress, sometimes misdirected or acting out of political panic, believe that the laws they pass are for the good of society.
Laws passed by Congress should protect the majority of Americans. At this point, my personal belief is that President Obama believes that his stimulus package will help those Americans that need the help. His naïve notion of getting his desired legislation passed with bipartisan support has impaired his efforts and diluted what he's done so far. However, I think many of his goals are admirable.
If The Constitution and its amendments have taught us anything, they've taught us that laws are made for the benefit of the majority.
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