Our annual membership meeting, Illuminations Weekend, has come and gone, but the memory of some of the discussions remains — and in particular, the almost non-stop focus of the CEOs on one issue: "card check," or as US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue prefers to call it, "the end of private ballot elections in the workplace." Donohue was frank with the NEMA Board of Governors on Friday, even by his standards. Manufacturing CEOs who do not get involved to kill this initiative shouldn't bother calling Donohue to complain, because they'll deserve what they get.
Pat Cleary, former senior exec at NAM and now a top exec at Fleischman-Hillard, came in on Saturday to teach CEOs how to blog. He too warned the business community about labor's efforts to end secret balloting in the workplace. "This will probably be HR 1 — the first bill introduced in the new Congress," he predicted.
How bad is the threat of card check? Some smaller companies told me that if enacted there was a distinct possibility they'd pull up stakes and move their operations out of the country. That's because under a card check process, private balloting is as good as dead. Instead of a secret ballot, if they want union organizers can openly confront employees about their position on unionizing. Think there's a possibility of intimidation in that process?
The good news is, labor has overreached. It's been two decades or more since U.S. business has had an issue that was this galvanizing and unifying. NEMA has joined the broad (and growing increasingly broader) Coalition for a Democratic Workplace to oppose the legislation, which will no doubt come up in Congress' first 100 days.