Say no to ‘card check’

Published 2:59 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

Virginia’s small businesses are struggling right now because of the recession. They’re struggling to get customers, pay bills and keep the doors open.

The last thing Virginia’s family-owned businesses need is some bureaucrat dictating the wages and benefits they pay their employees.

But that’s exactly what the labor unions and some members of Congress want to see happen.

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Union bosses and their friends in Congress are trying to pass something called the Employee Free Choice Act. This woefully misnamed bill would replace secret ballots with a process known as card check.

If the bill were to become law, unions could organize a workplace simply by “persuading” a majority of workers to sign authorization cards. There would be no subsequent secret-ballot election and no chance for management to present its case as to what the ramifications might be for employees’ futures.

Once the union had enough signatures, contract negotiations would begin. If the union couldn’t come to terms with management within a set number of days, then a federal bureaucrat would step in and dictate wages and other benefits.

The Employee Free Choice Act would open employees to union intimidation. Organizers could corner workers in the parking lot or even at home. Don’t let the name fool you. This is the Employee Forced Choice Act.

A 2007 survey by the polling firm McLaughlin & Associates found that almost four in five voters opposed this card check legislation. As state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Virginia’s leading small business association, I hope Sen.-elect Mark Warner and Sen. Jim Webb will listen to their constituents on this issue.

As governor, Mark Warner helped Virginia earn a reputation as a business-friendly state by promoting the commonwealth’s right-to-work law and encouraging firms to come here because of our excellent labor-management climate.

Card check would change that. If the unions and federal bureaucrats can dictate wages and benefits, small business owners will have to decide whether they can afford to grow, add jobs or even stay in business.

Under card check, a repair shop is as vulnerable as a manufacturing plant. Men and women struggling to make payroll, provide insurance for their workers, put gas in their fleet or advertise their goods and services will become union targets. If Big Labor and some members of Congress have their way, these small businesses — and the people who work for them — would have unions shoved down their throats.

In this increasingly tough financial climate, the last thing we need is a bill that will make life even tougher for small business owners, the backbone of the American economy. These entrepreneurs, who aren’t coming to Washington for a handout, should not be sacrificed so unions can have their political spoils. Join NFIB by telling our senators that card check is a bad idea — for business, for labor and for Virginia.