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How labor law fails democratic election standards

Source: American Rights At Work

Based on a Report by Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., University of OregonProduced for American Rights at Work

Recent debates on labor law reform have focused on how we best bring elections for union representation in line with the norms of U.S. democracy. One side argues that the current National Labor Relations Board system must restrict all forms of union recognition to the process of a secret ballot to safeguard democracy. Others assert that the secret ballot is not enough to guarantee a free and fair election.

American Rights at Work commissioned University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer to investigate how current union election procedures measure up to U.S. democratic standards. Lafer engaged in a thorough examination of the political philosophy and published works of the founders, the historical development of electoral law and jurisprudence, and current statutes and regulations that define "free and fair” elections.

Lafer concludes that union representation elections fall alarmingly short of living up to the most fundamental tenets of democracy. The inclusion of a secret ballot does not change the fact that the process as a whole is fundamentally broken and unfair.

For a print-friendly summary of the report, click here (PDF).


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