In her latest Ruestman Report, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman bemoans the possible loss of the "secret ballot" due to the Employee Free Choice Act and tells what she and other anti-union legislators are doing to help hold on to this precious right...a pretty good feat since no one has threatened the secret ballot:
People should be able to vote without fear of intimidation? The secret ballot is an essential and fundamental principle in our society. Without that ability, individual freedom will be controlled by threats and bullying from those who want voters to take certain actions or votes for certain outcomes..
When you vote, you cast a secret ballot. Nobody knows how you voted. Secret ballots ensure that a voter is able to make a personal choice without being influenced.
One use of a secret ballot in America was to protect the voting rights of freed slaves after the Civil War. During southern reconstruction, this problem was rampant. African American voters were in fear of physical harm if it was made known how they voted. Voter intimidation is a constant threat even today.
This intimidation has also been used by labor unions in the past. They used peer pressure to persuade workers to sign cards or vote for people or special causes. This behavior kills the freedom and liberties so many veterans fought and died for. In fact, to lose the right of secret ballot reduces the very essence and privacy that our country stands for.
Federal legislation known by the disguised title "The Employee Free Choice Act" or card check would bypass secret ballot elections. For example, this legislation allows a labor union to form when at least 50 percent of workers sign a card, avoiding the need for an election. Labor unions have employed strong membership numbers and political support for many decades even while using the secret ballot method.
The tide is shifting, thus the desire to end secret ballot voting. The number of private sector employees that belong to unions is down to 7.5 percent from 16 percent in 1985.
It appears that they are using their strong influence with the current leadership in Washington to arm twist for legislation that would help increase membership numbers. By doing away with the elections, employees can simply be threatened into signing the card.
The Missouri House of Representatives voted this week to protect the right of secret ballot. I'm proud to be a member of this legislative body which recognizes the ultimate need for voting privacy. Other public offices as well as petitions and referendums will share this guarantee of secret choice. We must NOT lose this precious right. We must NOT allow special interest groups to dispose of or bypass this fundamental liberty, calling it "card check"
And now, as the late Paul Harvey said, the rest of the story:
While Mrs. Ruestman gives every indication that our veterans fought and died to keep our union union-free, and blasts the unions for their intimidation of workers, there is plenty of evidence that the intimidation more often comes from the companies. In one particular case, only a couple of years after Mrs. Ruestman was first elected, many of her constituents were intimidated by one of the area's largest employers. Of course, Mrs. Ruestman, a darling of big business interests, and a recipient of much cash from those interests, remained silent.
As I noted in the Dec. 7, 2004 Turner Report:
A federal appeals court decision issued this morning cited La-Z-Boy of Neosho for unfair labor practices designed to discourage union organizing.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit partially backed a decision made earlier by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which said the company unfairly disciplined two employees, John Phillips and Klint Guinn, during a union organizing drive.
The appeals court agreed with the NLRB as far as Phillips was concerned, but said that Guinn had not been unlawfully disciplined.
The Phillips incident occurred on June 16, 2000, when Phillips, a parts inspector, was called to a meeting with supervisors Dave Harris and Wayne Allen. According to the court ruling, they told Phillips that La-Z-Boy had received a complaint from another employee "alleging that Phillips had threatened to reject products from the employee, thereby negatively affecting that employee's pay, if the employee failed to sign a union authorization card."
Phillips said he had not made that threat. Harris testified he and Allen had warned Phillips about a company policy against union solicitation during work hours and then excused him.
Harris's version did not jibe with Phillips' recollections. He said that Harris did not just give him a simple reminder, but told him to "consider this your verbal warning."
The supervisors also created a written record of the conversation, according to the court decision, and e-mailed it to the director of human resources to put in Phillips' file.
The administrative law judge for the NLRB who investigated the case found the e-mails documenting the meetings that were put in Phillips' file and further said the company took that step to discourage union activity.
The judge also found that Phillips had never threatened the other employee, so he determined the company had no justification for the discipline and could not show that it would have done the same thing if Phillips had not been involved with the union.
The second incident involved Guinn, a parts picker, who claimed he was unfairly disciplined for not telling a supervisor he would be gone on Friday, Aug. 11, 2000.
The judge decided in Guinn's favor partially relying on information about tactics La-Z-Boy officials had used in the past to discourage union organizing and noted that Guinn had been "treated differently" from another employee, who was not involved in union activity, but who had committed the same transgression.
Though the NRLB said that Guinn was disciplined solely because of his union activity, the appellate court said it could not be determined that was the sole reason,
Anyone who has been associated with La-Z-Boy can tell story after story about the strongarm tactics that company has used to keep unions away. But most of them are not going to take their complaints to the NLRB because they fear for their jobs or for the jobs of family members.
What Mrs. Ruestman and her colleagues are fighting for is not the right for secret ballot but the right to continue an ongoing pattern of harassment and intimidation toward anyone remotely involved with union organizing in Missouri.
And that is what our veterans fought and died for?