The new president of the AFL-CIO spelled out one difference Tuesday morning between herself and her late predecessor Rich Trumka: she supports a secret ballot in union elections, and Trumka famously did not.
Liz Shuler, who succeeded Trumka as head of the organized labor colossus following his death earlier this month, made clear her views on this and other union-related issues at a Washington, D.C., press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Newsmax recalled to Shuler Trumka’s support of the controversial Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). "Card Check," as it was commonly known, would have written the National Labor Relations Act to end management’s right to request a federally-monitored secret ballot election when it disagreed with a union’s claim to have a majority of workers signing cards to join their union.
Several Democrats balked at the idea of quashing the secret ballot, among them the late 1972 Democrat nominee and former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern.
In contrast to Trumka, Shuler voiced her strong support for the secret ballot in union elections.
"A secret ballot enables people to vote in an election without fear," she told Newsmax, essentially echoing McGovern’s criticism of Trumka and "Card Check." "They won’t have someone looking over their shoulder. Just as in democratic elections, we like to vote in secret so we won’t be intimidated or harassed. I think there are some parallels there — union elections and democratic elections — where you should be able to have the right to exercise and cast a ballot without intimidation."
The EFCA was never enacted, even in 2009-10 when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and Trumka made his major push for it.
Shuler did voice her strong support for the "PRO-Act," now known as the "Richard L. Trumka Protecting The Right to Organize Act." The measure, in many ways, goes much further than the EFCA. It would, in effect, scuttle right-to-work laws in the 27 states that protect worker’s choice to belong or not to belong to a union and it would limit contractors who were "customarily engaged in an independently-established trade, occupation [or] profession" — in other words, workers who do several different jobs rather than one.
Shuler said that the PRO-Act is needed because the right of workers to organize into a union "is broken year after year after decades. When workers stand up for their rights and their voices [need] to be heard, they are basically thwarted at every turn. Companies know they can break the law with impunity and not be penalized.
"So we need labor law reform, the pro-act is the best way to get there."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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