The Democrats believe in one man, one vote, one time.
This week’s 137 to 122 vote of House Democrats to replace John Dingell with liberal Henry Waxman at the energy and commerce committee would likely not have happened but for the secret ballot. Even Rep. Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, told Congressional Quarterly she was relieved the vote would be a private one: “It’s a secret ballot. . . . Thank the Lord.”
After all, the fearsome Mr. Dingell, who will become history’s longest-serving House member next year, has been known to hold grudges.
Yet the obvious irony is that Democrats now will try to deprive workers of the same privacy privilege in workplace unionization battles. So-called “card check” legislation would require an employer to sign a union contract as long as a simple majority of workers sign a form authorizing a union to represent them — a move that necessarily makes workers more vulnerable to coercion and intimidation than if they are voting by secret ballot.
And the ironies keep piling up. The leading House sponsor of card check is Rep. George Miller, who also served as campaign manager of Mr. Waxman’s race against Mr. Dingell, settled by secret ballot. What’s more, along with 10 House Democrats, Mr. Miller wrote a 2001 letter to Mexican government officials encouraging the “use of secret ballots in all union recognition elections.” The letter states: “We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.”
Rep. Miller and the other signers now say their demand was for secret ballot votes only when “workers seek to replace one union with another union. ” Funny. Their letter made no mention of that specific situation and instead referred to “all union recognition elections.”
A better explanation is that Democrats’ principled support for a secret ballot flies out the window when it comes to union organizing efforts sponsored by the special interests who helped them win control of Congress.