House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.


Left Turns

November 19, 2008

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Democrat Rules Committee Chair: “Thank the Lord” for Secret Ballots

As congressional Democrats begin piecing together their legislative agenda for 2009, they would do well to listen to the words of their own Rules Committee Chair, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). 

You see, one of the first orders of business for the Democratic members of the 111th Congress is to select their party’s leaders, including Committee Chairmen. In the contested race to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democratic leaders on the party’s Steering Committee voted today by secret ballot for their preference before sending the decision to their caucus as a whole. As reported by CQ Today: 

Many Democrats remained wary about showing their hands. Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter of New York has a vote on the Steering Committee and said she has made up her mind. But Slaughter declined to identify her choice. 

“It’s a secret ballot,” she said. “Thank the Lord.” 

Source: CQ Today, “Dingell and Waxman Express Confidence as Vote on Chairmanship Nears,” 11/19/08

It seems that leading Democrats greatly value their right to vote by secret ballot. And why wouldn’t they? Secret ballots allow individuals to vote their preference, free from intimidation, peer pressure, coercion, or retribution. 

Unfortunately, what’s good enough for congressional Democrats is evidently not good enough for American workers. Why else would they actively support legislation that strips workers of the right to a secret ballot unionizing election? 

It has been widely reported that labor unions are pressing for enactment of so-called “card check” legislation in the first 100 days of the new Administration, and – judging by their haste to enact this undemocratic proposal in the 110th Congress – it is widely expected that congressional Democrats will heed their calls. 

Labor unions are pushing for Congress to consider “card check” legislation during the first 100 days of the Obama administration. ...  

Specifically, the bill would eliminate secret-ballot elections for creating a union, in favor of allowing a union if a majority of employees to sign cards designating the union as their bargaining representative. It also mandates arbitration if contract negotiations stall and imposes penalties on employers that coerce workers not to join unions.

Source: CongressNow, “Labor Wants Congress to Consider 'Card Check' Bill in First 100 Days,” 11/06/08

Secret ballots are fundamental to fair, democratic elections. They protect voters from being forced to reveal their personal preferences – a protection House Democrats have been only too happy to avail themselves of this week.

Will they maintain the same protections for American workers?