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Secret Ballots Aren’t Enough

Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act have a one-note strategy to derail reform of our broken labor law system.  The anti-union, right-wing, business lobby simply spins the same broken record of lies, over and over again.  Track 1 is the bogus assertion: "The bill does away with secret ballot elections, and, elections without secret ballots are undemocratic." Track 2 is the counterfeit claim: "Elections for union representation are just like elections for Congress."

American Rights at Work can’t turn off their cacophony, but we can expose the lies of these lip synchers.  First off, a quick read of the legislation reveals that the bill does not eliminate secret ballot elections. The Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the chance to choose their union formation process-elections or majority sign-up.


election standards comparison


Second, as the above chart makes clear, current union elections involving secret ballots bear no resemblance to political elections.

The chart illustrates the analysis of University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., who measured the current union representation process involving secret ballots against the range of American democratic election standards used to elect public officials.  In his 2005 study, Free and Fair? How Labor Law Fails U.S. Democratic Election Standards, Lafer discovered that current union representation elections fall alarmingly short of the democratic process Americans envision when we use the term "election." Concluded Lafer, the presence of the secret ballots can’t overcome the undemocratic nature of the current process.

For more on Lafer’s study, Free and Fair? How Labor Law Fails U.S. Democratic Election Standardsclick here.

For more on how the Employee Free Choice Act will uphold democracy, and strengthen workers’ rights to a free choice and a fair chance to form unions, click here.

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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.


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