By: Katie Gage & John Kabateck
In recent weeks, the California state Senate passed legislation on a party-line vote that would eliminate the secret ballot in union organizing elections for farm workers. The legislation, SB 104 by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would allow farm workers to form a collective bargaining union through a majority sign up – essentially instituting “card check” at the state level. And of course, Big Labor is ecstatic, trying to portray the vote in the state Senate as a victory for workers. But sometimes the truth just slips out and the real intentions are revealed. A key strategist for the farm workers union in California was quoted as saying, “this is about power.”
For Big Labor, they have been dealt defeat after defeat, as workers and small businesses have stood up to them to reject their agenda that forces workers into unions, regardless of whether they want to join one or not. As articulated by Big Labor’s supporters, this legislation is about the union bosses wanting more “power” over workers’ wages, benefits and workplace conditions. But more importantly, Big Labor wants more “power” in the form of union dues to spend on political candidates who support their radical agenda. What isn’t reported is the fact that if this legislation, awaiting action by the State Assembly, becomes law it will mean more union dues for union bosses to spend on behalf of candidates who support an agenda of forced unionization.
A vicious cycle exists between Big Labor and its political allies. Its political allies bail out Big Labor with legislation that fattens their pockets with more money. Then, Big Labor uses this money to provide them cover in the form of campaign contributions. And ultimately, Big Labor demands “payback” for their support in the form of anti-worker, anti-small business legislation.
More fascinating is the fact that similar legislation being promoted in California has been rejected by the U.S. Congress. Last year, a debate occurred between the small business community and Big Labor over the Federal card check legislation, which economists estimated would cost America 600,000 jobs in one year alone. Voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates at the polls who were bought and paid for by Big Labor – delivering an overwhelmingly rebuke to California Congressman George Miller – the chief architect of the Federal card check legislation. California is in the midst of a jobs crisis, so it isn’t clear why elected officials are supporting legislation that will undoubtedly cost California jobs they can’t afford to lose.
Let’s point out the facts surrounding the card check legislation in California. If signed into law, it will diminish worker freedom. At any time under this process, a worker could be approached by a union representative and asked to sign a card in support of unionization. The secret ballot is a time-honored tradition developed to help keep elections fair and free of intimidation. In fact, it was Governor Jerry Brown who signed the original Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 and was a major supporter of the secret ballot election process, along with United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez.
SB 104 would open the floodgates to intimidation and coercion. Small businesses would be shackled with additional costs and interference by government bureaucrats, which will result in increased unemployment. The most likely outcome is that small businesses may have to shut their doors. That is why the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has been such a strenuous opponent of this terrible public policy which strips “mom and pop” businesses and employees of their independence – there is no “free choice” about it.
Workers and small businesses in California need to continue to stand up to Big Labor and reject this job-killing, anti-worker, anti-small business legislation. A national debate has occurred over this bad policy and Big Labor lost. It is time that members of the California legislature receive that message as well.
Katie Gage is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) & John Kabateck is the executive director of the NFIB/CA.