Lawmakers Introduce U.S. Senate, House Secret Union Election Bills

February 25, 2009 ( - U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, have introduced legislation designed to guarantee the right of American workers to have a secret ballot election on whether to unionize.

According to a press release, the Secret Ballot Protection Act (SBPA) would require secret ballot elections and helps protect workers from the certification of unions through card check only. It also protects workers from card check certifications approved by their employer without their consent, which is permitted under current law, the press release said.

Under current labor law, employers have the choice of asking workers to recognize a union as the exclusive bargaining representative based on a “card check,” or they can insist upon a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “Under this undemocratic ‘card check’ system, workers are forced to sign cards in support of a union without a secret ballot election, which allows bullying and peer pressure to influence votes. ‘Card check’ is completely unacceptable and un-American, and we must pass the Secret Ballot Protection Act to safeguard workers’ rights for good,” said DeMint, in the news release.

“Americans get a private ballot when they choose their President, their Congressmen, their local councilmen, even their PTA leaders. Why should they not have the same right in the workplace?” added Enzi. “Working Americans deserve to choose what’s right for themselves without fear, coercion or pressure, and without having to publicly disclose or defend their views to hostile coworkers or unions. The right to a private ballot is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and the Secret Ballot Protection Act will uphold that right for America’s workers.”

The announcement said that U.S. Representative John Kline (R-Minnesota) and Tom Price (R-Georgia) as well as Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Buck McKeon (R-California) have introduced SBPA in the House with over 100 cosponsors including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“Secret ballots are a hallmark of American Democracy. They protect individuals – whether they are voters on election day or workers deciding whether to organize – from public pressure, intimidation, or post-vote retribution,” said McKeon, in a statement. “The Secret Ballot Protection Act makes clear once and for all that no one should be able to deny workers the right to a secret ballot.”