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Gazette Premium Content Card check needs to remain on the back burner

The Gazette editorial Published: May 29, 2013

Big Labor gave Barack Obama a big boost. When Obama won re-election, labor chief Richard Trumka made a big boast: Obama will get done what he failed to do in the first term, which is to get card check to become the law of the land.

Card check was a bad idea in the first term and equally bad now. Given the administration's current distractions with national security concerns and scandals, card check is on the back burner. It should stay there. In fact, it should be removed from the stove and put in the garbage disposal.

Card check would allow labor activists to intimidate workers into approving union representation. It would replace the secret ballot method that's cherished in regular elections but despised by Trumka and other labor bosses. "Card checks and getting rid of the secret ballot is the holy grail of union organizing," Heritage Foundation fellow James Sherk told Newsmax, a conservative news and opinion outlet.

Shortly after Obama's re-election last November, Trumka predicted card check would become law during the second term. But the AFL-CIO chief can't deny that the best chance for card check died when Republicans took over the House of Representatives two years earlier. The only chance it has legislatively in the second term is a Democratic takeover of Congress, as well as support from moderate Democrats. In other words, there isn't much of a chance the way it looks now.

We ascribe Trumka's optimism about card check as post-election puffery - not unlike the kind Obama and his liberal supporters displayed about many issues. This optimism has waned as Obama's presidency sputters. His inability to win on big-ticket issues such as gun control gives unions little reason to hope card check will clear the current Congress.

Unions believe they're owed by Democrats for the $400 million they pumped into the 2012 elections. Labor has been taking a number of hits recently, including a judicial repudiation of recess appointments Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board.

Michigan lawmakers opted to join the ranks of right-to-work states. Wisconsin voters rejected an attempt to punish Republican Gov. Scott Walker for reining in the excessive power enjoyed by public sector workers. Nationwide, union membership fell from 11.8 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012, the lowest level since 1916.

No wonder Trumka and fellow labor bosses want Washington to endorse the heavy-handed card check proposal: It would make it so much easier to organize workers by allowing organizers to personally contact workers leaning against certification. This contact could take an ugly turn.

A balanced approach is to not overly restrict union participation but also not to stack the deck in favor of unions. Not even labor bosses can deny that unions have a history of violence and intimidation.

Yes, that once could have been said about the management side, but not so much anymore. The secret ballot mitigates the intimidation factor. Card check would elevate it.

Legislation isn't necessarily the only route to card check. The NLRB is another. Card check is a long-term goal of the unions. Their desire for it may wane in the near term but never quite go away.

Getting rid of forced unionism in Oklahoma took 37 years between votes on a right-to-work law. Right-to-work supporters never gave up. States that don't want a right-to-work law aren't forced to have one. With card check, every workplace in the union could be affected. - The Oklahoman

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