USA Today, Politico repeated their previous falsehood that a secret ballot is currently required to form a union

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

A USA Today blog and the Politico both repeated the false suggestion that a National Labor Relations Board election is currently required before obtaining union representation. In fact, current law already allows a union that shows it has the support of a majority of workers to represent the workers if their employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union.

On March 9, USA Today's On Politics blog and the Politico both repeated the false suggestion that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election is currently required before obtaining union representation. Reporting on Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett's March 9 interview on CNBC's Squawk Box, USA Today reporters Jill Lawrence and Eugene Kiely wrote that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would "give workers the option to bypass secret elections as they decide whether to form a union. Instead of an election run by the National Labor Relations Board, workers could fill out cards saying whether they support or oppose a union." Similarly, Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen wrote that the EFCA "would allow a union to form after enough workers in a shop sign cards, or petitions, rather than voting by secret ballot." But the suggestion that a secret ballot election is currently required before workers can form a union is false. As Media Matters for America noted in response to earlier USA Today and Politico articles that contained the same falsehood, current law already allows a union that shows it has the support of a majority of workers to represent the workers if their employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union.

The NLRB, in its September 2007 Dana Corp. decision, noted the existence and legality of voluntary recognition: "We do not question the legality of voluntary recognition agreements based on a union's showing of majority support. Voluntary recognition itself predates the National Labor Relations Act and is undisputedly lawful under it." In the decision, the board later observed that when an employer voluntarily recognizes a union, "[t]he employer's obligation to bargain with the union attaches immediately. For instance ... the union can begin its representation of employees, its processing of their grievances, and its bargaining with the employer for a first contract." In addition, the dissent in Dana stated that "it is beyond dispute that an employer may voluntarily recognize a union that has demonstrated majority support by means other than an election, including -- as in the present cases -- authorization cards signed by a majority of the unit employees."

From a March 9 post to the USA Today On Politics blog:

Weighing in on a controversy that has been looming for weeks, billionaire investor Warren Buffett on CNBC this morning called the Employee Free Choice Act a "mistake."

Known to opponents as "card check," the proposal would give workers the option to bypass secret elections as they decide whether to form a union. Instead of an election run by the National Labor Relations Board, workers could fill out cards saying whether they support or oppose a union.

Though the card check bill has not advanced, both sides are itching for a fight later this year.

"I think the secret ballot's pretty important in the country. I'm against card check to make a perfectly flat statement," said Buffett. He later added that "the people who are in unions have not been well treated by the tax code that we've had."

Here's the liberal argument for card check and here's a link to the video of Buffett on CNBC.

From the March 9 Politico article:

Tomorrow, Democrats in both houses of Congress plan to introduce a union-organizing bill that is labor's top priority for the year, Democratic officials said.

The result could be a high-decibel, high-stakes brawl between business and labor, which strongly supported President Barack Obama. Unions have been getting impatient for attention to the issue, and the push to introduce legislation is a way to ratchet up pressure on Congress.

President Obama, who has said he recognizes that "the business community ... considers this to be the devil incarnate," said in January that he would like to bring the sides together.

The measure -- widely known as card check and formally as the Employee Free Choice Act -- would allow a union to form after enough workers in a shop sign cards, or petitions, rather than voting by secret ballot.

"The fact that the bill is being introduced so early in the session is an indication of it being a priority and of confidence in the vote count," said a Democratic official involved in the negotiations.

Posted In
Economy, Labor Unions
Network/Outlet
USA Today, The Politico
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.