Outgoing NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman and the of the Obama Appointed NLRB Board members, Craig Becker & Mark Pearce, voted to eliminate secret ballot election protections. Now, when employers make secrets deals with a union bosses agreeing to recognize a union without allowing his employees a secret ballot vote; employees no longer have the right to force an NLRB secret ballot election and allow workers to decide if they want the union or not.This is bad news for workers and employers. It gives a handful of employees the power to assert their coercive bargaining power and hold an election wherein they are given lists of employees (from employers compelled to provide the lists by the NLRB) and have the ability to harass and intimidate workers into voting for the union.
Unable to pass EFCA, Card Check Forced Unionism, through a Democrat-controlled congress, Obama is paying off Big Labor through his handpicked NLRB Board. He is doing all this at the expense of worker freedoms and worker paychecks. And, the NLRB Decision is applied retroactively to bar even elections that have already been held but not counted.
Bad news that it is, it is not what I wanted to write about. The point I'd rather make is that the whole issue of secret or open ballots for unionization wouldn't be an issue if employers and workers rights were recognized. Whether or not the unionization election is secret becomes a serious issue only in the context that the resulting unionized employees have the coercive power of 'collective bargaining,' under which the employer is not allowed to fire union members or walk away from the bargaining table.
In a free society, outside the context of the apparatus of government, how do elections and ballots arise? Elections arise in an organized group of people that desires to or has agreed to make a decision by majority vote. A business charter might specify that the board has to vote on a budget. Or the president of a company might decide to put a Christmas party venue to a company-wide vote. It is possible that a company contemplating unionization might put that decision up to a vote by the employees. Or an employee organization primarily concerned with social events might put a vote to its membership to become a union and thereby start bargaining regarding wages, hours, etc. In each of these cases, the freedom of the employer and employees to abide by or defy the result of the vote would be specified by whatever contracts they have already agreed to. Lastly, it would be entirely up to the organization or individual initiating the election to decide whether or not the ballots would be secret.
So if the president held an open vote for the Christmas party venue, and a third of employees decided not to vote and the president decided to fire those employees, that would be within his rights. Also, if an employee disagreed with the venue and decided to quit, that would be within his rights. If the president decided he didn't like the results of the vote and picked his favorite spot anyway, that would be within his rights (unless he had signed a contract to abide by the result of the vote). The point is that there's nothing magical or sacrosanct about an election and it doesn't supervene the rights of employers and employees or their contractual agreements.
It is hard to imagine a unionization vote arising out of voluntary contractual agreements similar to what occurs today. Contemporary unionization elections could only occur under the coercive powers of the NLRB. In what world would a handful of employees be able to compel a company to conduct a unionization election, secret or not? Only in the insane world of NLRA regulation with the irrational concept of 'collective bargaining.' In a rational world those employees might decide to form a union. They wouldn't need to vote, they would just arrange a offsite meeting and tell everyone who wanted to unionize to show up. Voila the union exists and the employees would have every right to form that union. The employers would then have the right to either recognize it as the negotiator for that group of employees, recognize it as the negotiator for all employees, not recognize it as a negotiator for anyone, or fire everyone that went to the meeting. Nowhere in this scenario is a government imposed ballot or a government decision regarding the election's secrecy.
An approach that recognizes the rights of employers and employees and doesn't attempt to compel them to negotiate with one another at the point of a gun, has no need to specify secret or open ballots. The issue just doesn't come up. Card-Check (non-secret ballots), Right-to-Work and various other measures to tame the coercive powers of unions are artifacts, half-measures to control union coercive power. When we get rid of collective bargaining, all of these other issues will disappear. An employer that can simply fire employees that attempt to unionize or refuse its latest labor contract could care less whether the elections are secret or open.