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The secret ballot: Protect it

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Sunday, April 20, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A new report on the United Auto Workers' attempt to organize Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., makes clear the need to better protect workers' right to secret-ballot unionization elections.

Competitive Enterprise Institute policy analyst Trey Kovacs writes that the UAW, having failed at other foreign automakers' U.S. plants, had its reasons for targeting VW in Chattanooga. It wanted a labor-management “works council” like those at VW's other plants and contended U.S. labor law required union representation to form one. And VW pledged neutrality — but coordinated with the UAW behind closed doors, gave it plant access and prohibited anti-union campaigning.

The union deceptively said “card check” signatures just signaled desire for more information, though a majority of signed cards would have organized the plant without a secret ballot. The National Labor Relations Board dismissed workers' charges that the UAW was trying to subvert a secret ballot, but a petition drive forced such a vote. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said the plant would build a new SUV if workers rejected the UAW. They did, 712-626. The union wants a re-vote, claiming coercion by Mr. Corker. A regional NLRB hearing is set for Monday.

Kovacs urges making secret ballots the sole method for unionization elections — no more “card check.” Such reform, which U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch's Employee Rights Act would accomplish, is a “must” to protect all workers' secret-ballot right.

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