In November 2012, roughly 63 million Americans nationwide voted against the winning candidate for U.S. President, Barack Obama.
People who cast their ballots for Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and the numerous other candidates who didn’t win were undoubtedly disappointed.
But many have been able to take consolation in the fact that, as citizens, they continue to have the First Amendment freedom to speak out against the Obama Administration initiatives they oppose, and do everything they can to ensure those initiatives are never implemented. They also retain the freedom to hire, individually or collectively, spokesmen to represent in Washington, D.C., views they hold that are contrary to the President’s.
Unfortunately for American employees, under federal labor statutes workplace elections concerning unionization are in this regard little like public elections.
If the majority of voting employees cast ballots in favor of being unionized, federal law dictates that the minority who oppose unionization may not share with their employer their own opinions on compensation and work-rule issues. Instead, they have to allow the officers of a union they didn’t vote for to speak on their behalf.
Employees who disagree with the stands taken by their union monopoly-bargaining agent are also prohibited from spending their own money to hire a representative to present their views, rather than the unions, directly to the employer.
Clearly, then, the workplace free-speech rights of the minority voting against unionization in an election a union wins are far less protected than the free-speech right of citizens who vote for candidates B, C and D are protected in the public square after candidate A wins.
Therefore, contrary to the key assumption of the silly Capital Times (Madison, Wisc.) editorial linked below, it makes perfect sense that the bar for winning a unionization election should be higher than the bar for winning a public election.
National Right to Work Committee members and, polls over the years indicate, the vast majority of other Americans agree that, regardless of which side wins an election over unionization, the minority should retain the freedom to present their own views on key workplace issues to their employer, even if their views don’t jibe with the union’s.
But as long as federal labor laws and parallel laws in many states authorize union bosses to acquire monopoly-bargaining power, it is hardly radical for public officials to require that unions get a majority of all affected front-line employees, instead of just the majority of those who vote, to cast ballots in favor of unionization first.
This is exactly what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and legislative majorities in Madison did nearly three years ago in one provision of the wide-ranging reform known as Act 10. Walker and his allies also instituted a requirement that unions have to submit to regular “recertification” votes to retain their monopoly-bargaining privileges.
Despite the Capital Times editors’ huffing and puffing, the real defect in Act 10 is that it perpetuated the system of government monopoly bargaining, even as it greatly narrowed its scope for most public servants. It is unseemly for union officials to complain that Act 10 makes it too difficult for them to retain monopoly privileges they should never have been granted in the first place.