WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today made the following statement after Senate Republicans succeeded in protecting workers’ rights to conduct secret ballot elections:
“Today the United States Senate rightfully rejected legislation that would have denied employees the right to vote for or against unionizing by secret ballot. The ironically titled ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ would strip workers of their fundamental democratic rights and leave them more vulnerable to union pressure.
“The current secret-ballot system is the only way to protect all workers’ freedoms by providing a level playing field for workers seeking to unionize as well as those opposed to unionization. Secret ballots ensure that workers can decide to join or not to join a union privately and free from coercion.
“I hope that today’s failed cloture vote will discourage the Senate Democrat leadership and ‘big labor’ bosses from attempting future attacks on secret ballot elections for America’s workers. The principle of the secret ballot is a time-honored tradition and one that should not be carelessly tossed aside to repay the political favor of special interests.”
The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R.800) would have eliminated the rights of workers to participate in a secret-ballot election in order to certify the creation of a union. Instead, the legislation would have forced employees to make a public declaration of their preference by allowing union organizers to bypass elections if a majority of employees sign cards authorizing a union.
The legislation also would have severely restricted the rights of workers and employers to bargain collectively without having government officials unilaterally impose employment contracts and dramatically increased the penalties for unfair labor practices committed by employers, but not unions, during an organizing drive.
H.R. 800 was fiercely opposed by small business owners and numerous grassroots organizations, including National Federation of Independent Businesses, Associated Builders and Contractors, Association of General Contractors, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.