Salt Lake nurses show need for card check | Buzz Blog
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

Salt Lake nurses show need for card check


I have sympathy for Orson Scott Card's take on the Employee Free Choice Act--that it serves union leaders more than union workers--but my sympathy is far from agreement. ---

"Whether you're a serf to management or to union leaders makes little difference to the serf."

Now that's a position that gets my attention. And Card argues it genuinely. He's a union screenwriter in favor of unions, but he's worried union power, like any centralized power, becomes corrupted with each political victory, i.e., more power. I couldn't agree more with that basic premise.
But he then argues that the Employee Free Choice Act, frequently referred to as "card check," is an example of union leaders merely maintaining their own power, not empowering workers. As it is, management can force a secret ballot election upon their workforce even if a majority of workers have already signed cards saying they want to form a union. EFCA would enable card-signing majorities of workers to skip the formality of an election. Why have a secret ballot to determine the interests of a majority of workers, if a majority of workers have already expressed their desire for a union publicly?
Card says the movement to eliminate this management control of the elections is a "a conspiracy of Democrats in Congress and union leaders against the freedom of workers." Union leaders can force or coerce workers to sign cards, Card and others argue, but secret ballot frees the worker from this pressure.
Card made a mistake, however, of not examining the unspoken motivations of the anti-card check crowd.
The value of elections for this crowd is not secrecy; primarily elections serve as a crucial delay. The National Labor Relations Board, under the George W. Bush administration, became a veritable black hole where contested union election results went in for review, but never came out. Or, when they did come out in years later in favor of the workers seeking a union, the work force sometimes had changed so much due to routine turn-over that the election was then challenged on those grounds. Delay, delay, delay.
Card may be right that EFCA will empower union leaders and that may not be an entirely good thing. But he's writing from a position as a firmly unionized worker, not one currently organizing.
If you don't believe me, refer to the union battle suffered by nurses at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center whose union election was challenged by IASIS Health, the owners of the hospital. In 2008, the nurses' efforts to organize a union died five years after their secret ballots were cast. The ballots were never counted. Soon after the union battle was over, three organizers were fired.