AN EGREGIOUSLY undemocratic piece of legislation continues to float about in Congress. It has the appealing title of Employee Free Choice Act. It is anything but.

The act would make a major change in the way in which unions are formed and recognized by doing away with private elections with secret ballots and overseen by a neutral federal board.

Instead, the measure would allow union organizers to simply get signatures from more than 50 percent of the employees in a company or a bargaining unit within the company.

It isn't difficult to see how easy it would be for aggressive union organizers to cajole or even threaten workers, one by one, into signing union cards.

There would be nothing private about the process. Nor would there be any secret ballot election and no oversight.

Imagine what our political process would be like if free elections were replaced by partisan groups that personally pressured voters on an individual basis to cast a ballot on the spot in plain view for a particular candidate.

Yet that is exactly what the Employee Free Choice Act would do in the workplace. It not only would give union organizers an unfair advantage, it tramples on the rights of workers and flies in the face of democratic process.

One does not have to be an opponent of organized labor to oppose this piece of legislation.

In an commentary in the Wall Street Journal, former Sen. George McGovern, a strong union supporter, denounced the act.


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He wrote, "As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor."

McGovern added, "Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal."

The 1972 Democratic presidential nominee should be heeded, especially by members of his party who are considering voting for the act as a favor to union leaders.

They should understand that eliminating secret-ballot union-organizing elections contradicts advice that prominent Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. George Miller, have given to union organizers in developing nations such as Mexico.

Certainly union organizers should have the right to contact workers collectively or on an individual basis in an effort to establish union representation and recognition in any workplace.

However, Congress should not allow unions to run roughshod over basic democratic principles by taking away the right to secret ballot elections.