Recent Press Releases

Thune Denounces Legislation That Would Deny Workers Private Ballots

--Legislation Would Kill Jobs, Encourage Workplace Intimidation--

March 10, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today issued the following statement condemning the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," (S.560) which was introduced today in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislation is more commonly known as "card check" and would eliminate the right of workers to vote by private ballot when choosing whether or not to unionize their workplace, and allows government arbitrators to impose contract terms on workers and employers.

"Private ballots are a cherished, necessary component of free and fair elections," said Thune. "It is wrong to strip employees of their privacy and conduct workplace elections with eyes looking over their shoulders."

In card check elections, workers can be forced to sign a document saying that they desire union representation. Unfortunately, this system makes the employee's union organization preference public, leaving them open to coercion and intimidation. Additionally, all workers are forced to join a union after organizers collect cards signed by a majority, even if some of those workers did not know about the organizing drive and were never asked to sign a card.

In Right-to-Work states like South Dakota, state law will continue to stand which means employees would not be forced to pay union dues. However, card check will increase unionization in rural states. For South Dakota, increased unionization will mean higher costs for the health care industry, driving up health costs for hospitals and consumers. It will mean higher costs for hotels, tourism, small businesses and other service industries.

A coalition of national and regional agricultural groups have also come together to oppose card check. While farmers themselves are not impacted by the proposal, they fear that higher prices will be passed down to them due to the unionization of workers in packing and processing plants, refrigeration facilities, transportation and other off-farm worksites or even workers in cattle feedlots.

The bill would also impose a provision known as mandatory arbitration, under which the federal government would unilaterally dictate the terms of union contracts, including wages and benefits for employees, if an agreement is not reached promptly.

"Not only does card check strip workers of their rights, it kills jobs," added Thune. "Small businesses across South Dakota and across America currently face daunting challenges, and struggling to meet federally defined union demands will only make things worse. I believe that employers and employees in South Dakota know more about how to make businesses successful, thus benefiting everybody, than federal bureaucrats and the big labor lobby in Washington.

"Hundreds of South Dakotans have contacted my office in support of protecting private ballot union organization. Former Senator George McGovern, with whom I rarely agree politically, has come out in strong opposition to card check, as well."

A study recently released by Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar, an economist with the non-partisan LECG Consulting Group, concluded that the unionization of 1.5 million existing jobs in one year under the Employee Free Choice Act would lead to the loss of 600,000 jobs the following year. A summary of the study can be found here: