George McGovern has an editorial in the WSJ urging the Democratic party to abandon the idea of stripping secret balloting from union organizing elections:
The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism
by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private
election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board,
union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than
50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known
as "card-check." There are many documented cases where workers have
been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards
that have led to mandatory payment of dues.
Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express
their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone
peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.
There's no question that unions have done much good
for this country. Their tenacious efforts have benefited millions of
workers and helped build a strong middle class. They gave workers a new
voice and pushed for laws that protect individuals from unfair
treatment. They have been a friend to the Democratic Party, and so I
oppose this legislation respectfully and with care.
To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be
a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot
election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the
working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation
and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always
I have always been a bit torn on this issue. I don't in general think the government needs to get involved in how private organizations do their business. However, by force of law, unions are not a normal private organization. They have special rights, including ones that mimic taxation, other groups do not have:
Unfortunately, we don't live in a free society, and the term "union"
comes with a lot of legal baggage. Recognized unions are granted
certain legal powers and rights that an average group of self-organized
folks don't. For example, they are the only private organizations in
this country that I know of that have taxation power, and the power to
demand absolutely that certain monies be withheld from employee
paychecks (even of employees not in the union) and given to them.
Perhaps more importantly, companies can't ignore them - they have
to negotiate with a recognized union. Unions also have informal
powers. For example, the legal system tends to tolerate a lot of
violence and physical intimidation by union members (in strikes and
such) that it does not tolerate in other contexts (seventy-five years
ago, the situation was reversed and the system tolerated a lot of
company violence against workers).