WASHINGTON – Ernest Istook, Chairman of the National Advisory Board for Save Our Secret Ballot, described at the Conservative Bloggers’ Briefing yesterday a grassroots, state-level strategy to nullify the effects of the Employee Free Choice Act should it be passed by Congress.
SOSBallot.org, a 501 c(4) organization, is currently pushing for constitutional amendments to be placed on the ballots of Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada and Utah. “Save Our Secret Ballot exists to give the citizens in the various states the opportunity to creat state level protections for secret ballots that would include union representation elections,” Istook said.
Istook, who is also a former Congressman from Oklahoma and a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is determined to stop the EFCA, which he says will enable unions to strong-arm otherwise unwilling workers into endorsing the formation of a union by eliminating the privacy of their vote. Instead, a far more public system of simply signing an authorization form will replace the secret ballot.
“Intimidation and attempts to intimidate people is very real,” Istook said. “Certainly, one of the areas where it has a sad history is union organizing tactics.”
“When you go into a voting booth, do you expect someone to be going in there with you?” he asked. “The unions are seeking to bypass [the right to a secret ballot]. It’s their payback for the hundreds of millions of dollars that they have invested in the elections.”
Only 12% of American workers are members of a union. Istook and SOSballot.org feel the impetus behind this measure lies in the shrinking size of the unionized workforce. “It’s driven by a desire to reverse a 50 year decline in union membership in the US,” he said.
“The secret ballot is the key to protecting our other rights. That is at the essence of the democratic process. We’re standing up for a fundamental right that most Americans believe is protected by the US Constitution. It is not.”
He warned that “the skids are greased in the US congress with the most liberal congress in history; poised to adopt that: the most liberal president in history, ready and eager to sign it.”
Istook’s fervor on the issue is perhaps indicative of the mentality the entire conservative movement should more fully embrace: “Let’s stand up for the right thing regardless,” he said. “That’s the way you win people over.”