Senate Gives America’s Workers Their Independence Day
The National Restaurant Association today commended the Senate for standing firm in defense of workers’ right to secret ballot elections in which every employee has the right to vote. Senators defeated S. 1041, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would replace federally-supervised secret ballot elections with a “card-check” process to determine union representation by a vote of 51 to 48 (60 votes were necessary for consideration of the bill to continue).

“Today’s vote is an early independence day for America’s workers, safeguarding employees’ privacy and right to decide who represents them” said Brendan Flanagan, Vice President of Federal Relations for the Association. “By voting against this bill, Senators have re-affirmed their commitment to the secret ballot and right to vote, two cherished concepts in our democracy.

“Card-check is undemocratic and infringes on employees’ rights to a secret ballot. The only way to protect employees from fraud, intimidation and coercion from union organizers or employers is through the continued use of a federally supervised secret ballot so that personal decisions about whether or not to join a union remain private.”

The Senate vote is also in line with public opinion. Nine in 10 voters-and nine in 10 union households-support the right to a federally-supervised secret ballot when deciding whether to organize a union, according to a recent opinion poll.

Under the Senate bill, and a similar bill already passed in the House, union activists would have been able to unionize a workplace by persuading a majority of employees to sign a card designating the union as their bargaining representative. “Card-check” would allow union bosses to know how each participant had voted, eliminating secret ballot elections. Unions would only be required to gain the approval of half of all employees plus one to unionize. The other half of the workforce need not be consulted under this legislation.

The National Restaurant Association, which represents an industry of 12.8 million employees who work at 935,000 restaurant and foodservice locations, is a leader in the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), a coalition of workers, employers, associations and organizations who are fighting to protect the right to a federally supervised private ballot when workers are deciding whether or not to join a union

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