Ezra Klein on “card check”

Don’t focus on the solution. There are many solutions. Focus on the problem: illegal union-busting activity.

Ezra gets it completely right. Don’t focus on a particular solution. Focus on the problem.

The problem is that guys in nice suits routinely conspire, in violation of U.S. law, to deny their workers the internationally recognized human right to organize and be represented by a union if that’s what they want, and just as routinely get away with it.

“Card check” is one solution to that problem. And if intimidation were really an issue, which evidence shows it isn’t, the solution to that is a secret-ballot decertification election a year later.

Another solution is quick elections under fair conditions: votes within five days, off-site voting stations, no opportunity for management to harangue employees at work, prison time for firing organizers or threatening to close the plant if the union wins, binding arbitration for a first contract. (Again, with decert as a background threat.)

It doesn’t matter which solution we get to. It matters that we fix the problem. And that means first admitting that we have a problem. From the point of the people fighting EFCA, union-busting isn’t a problem; it’s a solution. (Mickey Kaus is frank about this.) Fine.

But don’t let them pretend that their issue with EFCA is that it’s “undemocratic.” Their issue with EFCA is that it interferes with their project of smashing private-sector unionism.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com