Labor officials are very excited about a Wall Street Journal editorial published Friday morning that, while highly unfavorable to the Employee Free Choice Act, concedes an important point of debate.
In a piece titled "Unionize or Die," the conservative, business-friendly scribes of the Journal admit that the legislation will not eliminate the secret ballot but rather allow workers to choose between that or a majority-sign up election to unionize.
"The bill doesn't remove the secret-ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act," reads the editorial, "but in practice makes it a dead letter."
To this point, millions of dollars in campaign and advertising cash have been spent declaring that EFCA would in fact take away a worker's right to a secret ballot. Most memorable were the spots of mobbed-up-looking union bosses peering over a worker's shoulder as he voted. In granting that these arguments are misleading, the Journal has rescinded an important tool in the debate.
The paper's claim that EFCA would, in effect, make the secret ballot moot (under the projection that workers would always prefer majority sign-up) remains contested by labor officials, who say that's not always the case. But at this juncture, they're simply gloating in this small but potentially important victory.
"We look forward to all of the big business front groups joining the WSJ Editorial Board in telling the truth about the bill," said AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale.
UPDATE: An Anti-EFCA operative writes in to point out that The Journal has written in the past that card check would "eliminate the requirement for secret ballots in union elections."
"Any other reading on the part of our pro-EFCA friends is fanciful at best," the operative adds. "Clearly they haven't been reading the Journal or any other editorials across the country that closely."
This is an issue of wording. The Journal has and remains an ardent EFCA opponent. And the paper's editorial writers seem convinced that the legislation would ultimately make the secret ballot inoperative. But, now, even they are admitting that the secret ballot won't be eliminated.