CNN host Lou Dobbs falsely suggested that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would "end a secret ballot" on his February 4 show.
At the conclusion of a report by CNN correspondent Bill Tucker about the Service Employees International Union's mobilization in support of the legislation, Dobbs said, "The American people voted for lots of things, but I don't know a lot of people voted to end a secret ballot."
Dobbs' claim that EFCA would eliminate the "secret ballot" in union authorization elections, which has been a centerpiece in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-funded anti-union PR campaign (see Nation, 1/26/09), is completely false. As the text of the act (H.R. 800, 3/2/07) reveals, EFCA contains no language about eliminating the "secret ballot" enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act under Section 9 e.
Under EFCA, workers would still have the right to vote in a National Labor Review Board (NLRB) "secret ballot" election if 30 percent of the workforce signs cards, just as they do now. EFCA would change the process of union formation by giving workers seeking to join a union an additional option of winning union representation after a majority of the workforce signs cards, through a new provision to the act (section 9 c 6).
As American Rights at Work points out, this method of union sign-up, known as "majority sign-up" or "card check," is already recognized under current labor law, but only when the employer approves it. EFCA would represent a change in such union drives by removing the ability of employers to withhold recognition and to insist on an NLRB election.
In the CNN report, SEIU president Andy Stern explained this point clearly: "This is the worker's choice. They can have a secret ballot or legally affirm by a majority of them signing cards." Either Dobbs was not listening to his own broadcast, or he thinks labor leaders like Stern aren't telling the truth. Either way, we know whose side he's on--he referred to the pending legislation as the "so-called Employee Free Choice Act," and deemed labor's lobbying on the bill a "bold threat."
ACTION: Ask Lou Dobbs to stop repeating the business lobby's false charge that EFCA would eliminate secret ballot elections.
Please share your letters to Dobbs by posting them in the comments section of the FAIR Blog.
For more information on the media's role in misrepresenting EFCA, see Janine Jackson's article in the February issue of FAIR's magazine Extra!, "For Media, Card-Check Promise is One to Break."