Goodbye to worker privacy?

Peer pressure. Fear. A mob mentality.

That's the climate that could descend on American workers if the Democratic Congress is able to eliminate the secret ballot in unionization votes.

The U.S. House Thursday voted to eliminate the secret ballot and to allow union organizers to get their way with a "card check" that is open - and open to abuse.

Ironically titled the "Employee Free Choice Act," the law would actually strip workers of the privacy they've enjoyed in secret ballots when deciding whether to unionize. If it passed, the secret ballot would be replaced by an intimidating sort of peer pressure.

It also would hamstring employers by regulating the benefits they could offer to induce employees not to unionize.

Excuse us, but wouldn't that actually limit employee choices?

Certainly even if it miraculously passed the Senate, President Bush would veto the measure. That does not reduce its offensiveness.

As columnist George Will noted on this page Thursday, union membership is in free-fall - especially in the private sector, where only about 7.4 percent of employees are in unions. For good reason: Unions hold back both workers' and companies' ability to flexibly respond to the changing marketplace and even get out ahead of it.

No doubt in the past, unions were instrumental in protecting workers from abusive shops. But federal and state labor laws have taken over much of the responsibility for that. Moreover, today's workers are much more mobile than before, and can simply move down the street to better conditions. And they do: As Will noted, today's workers will have an average of 10 employers by age 38.

Now that's what we call choice.

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