The Honorable Charles Norwood
United States House of Representatives
2452 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Norwood:
On behalf of the 350,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write to you in strong support of your legislation, H.R. 874, the Secret Ballot Protection Act. It is a simple fact of democracy that voters should be allowed to cast their ballots in private, free of retribution from those who may seek to improperly influence their decisions. This is the concept behind the Secret Ballot Protection Act, which would simply ensure that workers have the right to a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
It only makes sense that labor elections should be free of coercion from employers and labor unions alike. Unfortunately, current law also permits employers and unions to bypass secret-ballot elections and to use "card-check" procedures when employees are asked to vote on union representation. Under these procedures, employees are forced to declare their preference in front of union organizers, thus abdicating any right to privacy.
Absent privacy under a card-check system, it is clear that coercion and abuse are potential problems. In recent testimony before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, an employee described the coercive behaviors that so often develop under card-check procedures. Tactics used include threats of termination, deportation, and loss of 401(k) and health benefits for those not signing the cards; and, conversely, promises of green cards, termination of supervisors, and free turkeys for employees who did sign the cards. It is no wonder, then, that in a recent case the Fourth Circuit observed, "It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wishes of employees than a card-check, unless it were an employer's request for an open show of hands."
Private sector labor unions can provide valuable advantages to many workers, but only if their services are indeed demanded by the workers they purport to represent. Only through carefully regulated, secret ballot elections can the true intent of any group of voters be discerned. Because all Americans deserve these basic procedural protections for decisions affecting their economic freedom, NTU and its members strongly support your legislative efforts and look forward to working with you towards passage of the Secret Ballot Protection Act.
Paul J. Gessing
Director of Government Affairs