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Choosing a Union: Private Ballot vs. Public Card-Check

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Today, when American workers form a union, they usually hold a vote by secret ballot. That commonly-accepted practice could come to an end in workplaces across the country if a bill passed by the House Education and Labor Committee becomes law.
SHRM supports and encourages secret ballot elections as the most effective process for validating majority representation, as such elections minimize inappropriate outside influences and are consistent with the underlying and fundamental principles of democracy. As such, SHRM opposes this legislation based on concerns that a public vote for or against a union could lead to a hostile work environment and employee intimidation.

Under the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800), if a majority of employees in a bargaining unit were to sign “authorization cards” in favor of a labor organization, the National Labor Relations Board must certify the union as the sole representative for those workers. As a result, there would not be a federally-supervised private vote.

In anticipation of the full House of Representatives voting on the proposal as early as next week, the White House announced that President Bush would veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

SHRM is a founding member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace; a partnership of employee and employer organizations advocating for workers’ right to a federally-supervised private ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union.

For more information about these and other public policy issues, please visit
©2007 Society for Human Resource Management

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