EFCA provision isn't about helping workers

Posted: Friday, May 08, 2009

In their recent opinion column, John Sweeney and Vince Beltrami spare no rhetorical flourish in promoting the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. The problem is that they use the straw man of Wall Street tycoons to sell their scam.

What they don't tell you is that EFCA, as applied to Alaska, affects your neighbor who owns a local business, and your neighbors who work for that small business. Read their article carefully, and you'll notice they don't talk about the bill's specifics.

Sweeney and Beltrami say they want workers to be able to form a union "free from intimidation." Why then does EFCA essentially do away with the secret ballot for union elections? Instead union organizers would circulate cards in public for workers to sign. The only way to get a secret ballot election is for 30 percent of employees to publicly sign a card requesting one.

Does anyone think this process, without any real protection of a secret ballot, will be free from intimidation? The right to a private ballot is inherent and fundamental to the American democratic system.

The column also left out the fact that a federal mediator would set contract conditions if negotiations are not completed within a few months of the union organizing. Employees would find themselves subject to a contract they are not allowed to ratify. How is turning over so much power to an unaccountable bureaucrat in the best interest of workers or businesses?

The provisions in EFCA have little to do with helping workers. It is more about taking secret ballot protection away from employees, and taking management of the business away from the local business owner. In the end it will mean fewer locally owned small businesses, and thus fewer jobs in our community. Maybe that's why this column had so much vitriol and so little description of the bill.

Ron Flint


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