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» October 13, 2008
Bad Choice, McGovern
Anyone who reads this blog (I mean, the both of you) knows that I've devoted a fair amount of space to 1972 Democratic presidential nominee and former South Dakota Senator George S. McGovern. Here and elsewhere, I've defended his policies &mdash particularly his foreign policies — because I truly believe they would have been a far more rational path to American success for the past four decades instead of the long, militaristic road we've trod since the Vietnam War. I went to last year's McGovern Conference to meet him and some of the others who participated and wrote about his run for the White House 36 years ago. And I did a fair amount of research and writing on a book project on McGovern's foreign policy that will probably never see the light of day at this point.
However. As with anyone you might admire, there are always points of disagreement. Last fall, when I met him, McGovern was supporting Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination this year. Couldn't really see how that meshed, apart from his lon association with the Clintons. And, of course, for at least a couple of months, he's been speaking out against the Employee Free Choice Act. Then, last week, commercials against the EFCA featuring McGovern started appearing across the country.
I'll let my dad, the retired managing business representative for a trade union take it from here.
I know you've been an admirer of George McGovern. I have been, too (and I voted for him in 1972, when you were still a bit young to vote). So I was really disappointed this morning when I saw him appearing in a commercial sponsored by the groups opposing the Employee Free Choice Act. The same sponsors are bashing those Democrats like [Jeff] Merkely who support this labor-sponsored proposed legislation.
McGovern said in the ad that he came to his position opposing the proposal after studying both sides of the issue. But I think he and others fail to understand that under current law, employers can recognize a union which gathers authorization cards from a majority of employees without going through a secret-ballot election. Currently, however, the choice on whether or not to grant such recognition is completely up to the employer, not the employees. I think that, at least in this case, our old friend McGovern may be suffering from the same syndrome that afflicted Elizabeth Furse when she endorsed Gordon Smith for the U.S. Senate.
Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act claim that union organizers may high-pressure employees into signing authorization cards and that the only way to make sure employees really want union representation is to have a secret ballot election held by the NLRB.
At my local union meeting today, one of the reps told a story that illustrates where the pressure on employees actually comes from. The union organizers were handing out flyers to employees entering the company's parking lot, and planned to leaflet the exiting employees as they left. Soon, supervisors informed employees in the plant not to accept any flyers as they left. The supervisors then stationed themselves near the exit to observe whether these instructions were followed (and probably to take down the names of those employees who disobeyed). I've had exactly the same thing happen in years past when I was helping to organize.
When it comes to coercion of employees on the question of union representation, employers hold vastly more power over employees than do union organizers. George McGovern ought to know that.