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"Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) have filed legislation to protect the rights of employees in their right to secret ballot."
So begins their press release for the Secret Ballot Protection Act, which is supposed to maintain secret ballots in union organizing elections. But if there were truth in advertising, it might read something more like this:
"Senator Jack Johnson and Representative Susan Lynn have filed legislation that will hopefully funnel huge corporate campaign donations to Senator Jack Johnson and Representative Susan Lynn. Otherwise, it's just a worthless bill shrouded by ham-fisted duplicity."
While it may sound like they're carrying water for democracy, freedom, and perhaps even small children and cute bunnies, they're really just sucking up to the anti-union corporate set...
Here's the background: Any day now, the Obama administration will start
pushing for a card check system in union organizing
elections. Instead of holding a conventional vote, it
allows labor to sign up potential members one by one. Once they've got signed cards from 51 percent of the particular labor pool they're organizing, the union is in.
While it may not seem like much, it's a big deal to both unions and employers.
The secret ballot heavily favors the company. Since the Reagan years, an entire consulting industry has sprung up solely devoted to teaching employers how to intimidate their workers. Stories are legion of supervisors telling workers the union will drive them out of business. And just to strike the proper level of fear, they also fire leaders of a drive, tail employees home, and generally threaten them with unemployment should they vote the union in. While much of this is illegal, that doesn't matter. It'll take years for the National Labor Relations Board to hear a fired worker's case. By the time an employee reaches for his secret ballot, he's scared shitless of being out of work.
But the card check system heavily favors unions. It allows an organizer to repeatedly visit a worker's home until he eventually signs. It also leaves plenty of time for the union to combat any intimidation taking place on the job. And that scares the shit out of employers.
Yet Obama will have no choice but to push for card-check soon. He swept the labor states from Massachusetts to Minnesota, where unions remain the single largest influence in the Democratic Party. And if the president wants those thousands of members manning phone banks and going door-to-door four years from now, pushing card check is the best way to satisfy them.
Which brings us back to the comedy duo of Jackson and Lynn. Obviously any federal measure would trump their Tennessee bill. And surely they know that. But they also know that employers-- especially Southern employers--are deathly afraid of unions. So while their bill is moot, it does provide the appearance of fighting the labor menace. And that will mean handsome contributions to Jackson and Lynn, who are doing their best to strike fear in the moneyed class. From their press release:
"The Secret Ballot Protection Act is a counter
measure to the Democrats' dangerous card check legislation, which would
subject employees to intimidation by making any vote public," said the
House sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Susan Lynn. "Unions are facing
declining membership in other parts of the country, and are targeting
Tennessee's growing auto manufacturing base. The key to their formation
is the ability to take away the right of secret ballot elections from
employees subjecting them to intimidation by the union which controls
the entire process."