While the nation’s attention was focused on Indiana this week, either because of the “make discrimination legal” bill or NCAA Final Four anticipation, back in Washington, President Obama issued the fourth veto of his Presidency and the second since the GOP took over the Senate in January.
This time it was to stand up for the middle class and stop those who wish to turn the clock back to the 1920s.
The veto comes in response to a congressional resolution seeking to reverse a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling allowing the use of what has become known as “card check” to gauge interest in union organizing. The process is designed to protect employers from retaliation against organizing or approving employees. The employer by law is forbidden access to the cards.
As anti-labor advocates spin it, the card check system is an “ambush election” according to their rhetoric. But it really isn’t when you consider the employer’s alternatives.
The first alternative is for employers to exclusively determine when or even if any union elections will be held. The obvious unconscionable unfairness of this is obvious. Of course most employers are not going to want to have to deal with their workers on an equal level. For them it’s much easier to deal with an unorganized force where both the individuals and the employees on the whole are subservient to the employer’s wishes. So such elections basically never happen.
The second alternative is sold as a “secret ballot.” Employers spin this as more fair. But like most things GOP these days, a title isn’t necessarily reflective of what actually happens.
And what actually happens is anyone who wants to organize and have an election must jump through hoops of paperwork. The organizers of course must expose themselves to employers and will face possible retaliations. If they get through the maze of paperwork, a voting booth is set up in a public area where all can see who votes if they only do so much as look (or spy) towards the booth.
The rules of such elections are the same as card check, which is important. In the card check system, only a signed card counts as a vote so all votes are yes votes. So if someone wants to vote no, they don’t sign a card. Similarly, if someone wants to vote no in a “secret ballot” election, they just don’t vote. The twist here is that an employer knows who the union agitators are by who goes and votes, which can be clearly seen. Then they know which employees to harass, demote, or just fire.
Again, in the card check system, no employer is allowed to see the cards. It protects the worker’s privacy.
So what President Obama did today was preserve the union’s preferred system which goes much further in protecting workers from retaliation than the obviously flawed systems the employers want to impose through their cronies in the GOP.
I think that’s a bad idea,” he told reporters.
“One of the freedoms of folks who live in the United States is if they choose to join a union they should be able to do so,” he added. “We shouldn’t be making it impossible for that to happen.
Of course, John Boehner’s orange hue got even brighter as he fumed over Obama screwing over his billionaire buddies for the sake of “the people.”
The NLRB’s ambush election rule is an assault on the rights and privacy protections of American workers,” Boehner said in a statement. “With his veto, the president has once again put the interests of his political allies ahead of the small business owners and hardworking Americans who create jobs and build a stronger economy.
Notice that Boehner sells the talking point of “privacy” that we debunked above. Also note that according to Boehner the workers don’t work hard, only their bosses. The mythical beasts he calls “the job creators.”
The propaganda never ends.
Despite that, Obama announced another move to bolster worker’s rights. In the fall he will be holding a summit with labor to further work on such issues and hopefully reverse the course of union busting the GOP has engaged in since the 1960s. A campaign that has diminished union membership to embarrassing low levels.
And those levels are the biggest driving factor in wage stagnation and decline in real dollars as this chart from the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows: