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Greedy angry pig man in a suit.
Not content with the variety of anti-union laws currently on the books in Virginia, the state Senate is moving forward with a bill to guarantee the "secret ballot" in union representation elections. Because apparently Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves thinks it's 2009:
Reeves’s bill is a response to proposed federal legislation to allow workers to organize by getting their co-workers to sign pro-union cards, a method known as “card check,” instead of by holding secret-ballot elections.

“Card check is a direct attack on the voting rights of Virginia workers,” Reeves said. “Should it become federal law, it will open up the floodgates of voter intimidation in union elections.

[Bitter laughter, followed by heavy sigh.] Really? The Virginia Senate has nothing better to do than revisit legislation that's been dead for a couple years and isn't being revived?

This is stupid and offensive in all of the same ways objections to majority sign-up were stupid and offensive where there was actually a chance it would be passed into law: majority sign-up, also known as card check, in which a union is recognized once a majority of workers in the workplace have signed cards saying they want a union, has long been legal under federal law. But while it's legal, in our current system, workers don't get to choose how they want to collectively make the decision whether to join a union. Instead, whatever workers say they want, employers can insist on the so-called "secret ballot" election, which in fact makes workers more vulnerable to the rampant intimidation practiced by bosses facing union organizing drives. A 2011 study by Cornell's Kate Bronfenbrenner and Columbia's Dorian Warren found that:

  • In 89 percent of all campaigns surveyed employers require workers to attend captive audience meetings with top management during work time.
  • The majority of employees attend at least five of these during the course of a campaign.
  • In 66 percent of campaigns workers are required to meet alone with their supervisors at least weekly, where most threats and interrogations occur.
  • Workers are threatened with plant closings in 57 percent of campaigns and with loss of wages and benefits in 47 percent.
  • In 64 percent of campaigns workers are interrogated about how they and other workers are going to vote, mostly by supervisors (53 percent), while employers use surveillance in 14 percent of elections.
This is the privacy and democracy Virginia Republicans want to enshrine into law, removing the legal option that workers currently sometimes have to avoid this kind of intimidation. Meanwhile, in early 2012, Republicans wrote into federal law provisions allowing airlines to know which of their workers had signed cards saying they wanted to join a union. Republicans also screamed bloody murder when the National Labor Relations Board proposed to streamline the union election process slightly and reduce frivolous litigation.

Because Republicans don't give a damn about secrecy or democracy. They just object to any provision that gives workers any control over their own destiny, any protection from intimidation, any teeny tiny step toward a level playing field. And if showing how dedicated they are to employer power means digging up the corpse of a bill no one is talking about, beating it with shovels, and claiming it's done in the name of workers, well, that's the kind of dedication Virginia Republicans have.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:08 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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