Mix: Why the UAW doesn't want a secret-ballot election

Mix: Why the UAW doesn't want a secret-ballot election

September 24th, 2013 Mark Mix in Opinion Columns

Workers assemble Passat sedans at the VW plant in CHattanooga.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

United Auto Workers (UAW) union operatives have spent at least the last year and a half trying to get Chattanooga Volkswagen workers to sign union "cards" that many workers believed were requests for more information or for a secret-ballot vote.

Now that a majority of VW workers have supposedly signed cards, Detroit-based UAW union president Bob King is pulling an about-face, pressuring Volkswagen to recognize the cards as pro-union "votes" and therefore declare the union as the workers' monopoly bargaining agent

The reason why? King now argues that a secret-ballot vote would be "divisive."

I'm sure there are plenty of Third World dictators who would agree with King's sentiment that a secret-ballot vote is too divisive. After all, voters knowing that their votes will remain private lets them express their true opinions, opinions that they may not feel free to state in public because people like King may find their positions too "divisive."

The National Right to Work Foundation has received numerous calls and messages from workers at the Chattanooga VW plant who were told by UAW union organizers that a signature on the card was a call for a secret-ballot unionization election.

The stories coming out of Chattanooga once again underscore how "card check" union organization schemes are unreliable and abuse-prone.

You see, a 2007 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision cited statistics that "showed a significant disparity between union card showings of support and ensuing [secret-ballot] election results." The NLRB noted that unions that collected up to 70 percent of workers' signatures on union cards still "won only 48 percent of elections."

The reason why UAW union officials do not want a secret-ballot election is clear: They know that the cards are not a true reflection of workers' sentiment.

Instead, union cards often reflect the effectiveness of union organizers' lies, coercion, and harassment. Even the AFL-CIO's own "Guidebook for Union Organizers" openly acknowledged that union cards are "Sometimes...signed to 'get the union off my back'."

As reports of UAW union organizers' tactics continue to come to light, VW workers who want to revoke their signature from a union card can do so by simply signing a letter, card, petition, or other document stating that they do not support the union. Under federal law, a worker's signature on a card or petition against union representation invalidates any union card that he or she may have signed earlier.

A petition is perhaps the most effective way for a group of workers to exercise their right to revoke their union cards or otherwise state that they do not want the UAW union in their workplace. If a majority of workers sign a petition against unionization, then it would be illegal for the union to be installed without a secret-ballot vote.

Despite the UAW union organizers' declaration of victory, it is not too late for workers who feel they may have been misled, pressured, or coerced into signing union cards to protect their legal rights.

Mark Mix is President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is offering free legal aid to VW Chattanooga employees, www.nrtw.org.