Card check measure is bad news for N.H.

This may be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime — especially for small-business owners and their employees. As a local business owner of seven New Hampshire restaurants and proud New Hampshire voter, I want all to understand the proposed federal legislation, misleadingly titled the “Employee Free Choice Act.” It is bad news, and it will be front and center in the new Congress in January.

This measure would dramatically change U.S. labor law. Today, employees are entitled to a private-ballot election when deciding whether they want union representation in their workplace. Elections are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, which has numerous procedures in place to ensure fair, fraud-free elections. Because of NLRB safeguards, employees can cast their vote confidentially, without peer pressure or coercion from unions, co-workers or employers.

If Congress passes the Employee Free Choice Act, employees effectively lose their right to private-ballot elections. The bill would establish a so-called “card-check” union organizing system, in which a majority of employees simply sign a card in favor of union representation. When a union tries to organize a workplace, employees sometimes face intimidation and pressure about how they should vote; from the union, co-workers, management, or all three. The best way to protect employees from coercion is through the continued use of a federally supervised, private-ballot process.

The entire American system is based on respect for individual liberty and democracy. If Congress passes this proposal, it will strip away the protections that federally protected, democratic elections provide for American workers. In fact, unions elect their officials via private ballot. How ironic, wouldn’t you agree?

Employees should not have to reveal to anyone — employers, co-workers or unions — how they exercise their right to choose whether to organize with their co-workers in a union. Moving to a card-check process rather than a federally supervised election tramples on employee privacy. An employee’s decision to join a union should be made in private, protected from any coercion by unions, employers or co-workers.

After more than 20 years of investing in local business, creating jobs for the restaurant industry and listening carefully to those who watch over my investment — our employees — I pride myself on maintaining open communication with all who work with us towards success. This attempted coercive power grab is the work of special interests in Washington, D.C., not the dedicated, hard-working professionals I am privileged to work with every day.

So, I have an urgent question for New Hampshire small-business owners: Where do the candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House stand on this issue? More importantly, for those who are in favor of this bill, ask them, “Why?”

Tom Boucher is chief executive and owner of Great NH Restaurants.

Categories: Opinion