The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Chicken Council and the Arizona Cattle Feeder's Association are among 35 groups that comprise the deceptively named Agriculture for a Democratic Workplace. (You may have to register to gain access to link.)
This coalition joins the likes of Wal-Mart and Rick Berman's deceptive lobbyist groups in opposing the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for employees to join unions. However, it does so under the guise that the act would harm workers. Its Web site urges visitors to "Tell Congress: PROTECT WORKERS’ RIGHTS -- SAVE THE SECRET BALLOT IN UNION ELECTIONS."
However, a 2007 New York Times editorial supporting the bill illuminates why employers want to keep the secret ballot.
The most significant change in the bill is known as a majority signup, which would allow employees at a company to unionize if a majority signed cards expressing their desire to do so. Under current law, an employer can reject the majority's signatures and insist on a secret ballot. But in a disturbingly high number of cases, the employer uses the time before the vote to pressure employees to rethink their decision to unionize.This intimidation was seen in the years-long attempt of Smithfield workers to unionize. The plant opened in 1992, and since 1994 workers had been trying to unionize. That year workers accused management of "harassment, illegal surveillance, intimidation, threats, and coercion" to defeat the measure.
In 2000 an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board found "Smithfield liable of using illegal threats, intimidation, and violence against workers" in a second effort to quash a vote to unionize, in 1997. That same year the slaughterhouse became the country's first to have its own company police force, with officers allowed to carry guns.
In December 2008 Smithfield workers were finally successful in instituting a union.
The only people big business -- whether it be animal "agriculture," retail or restaurants -- is interested in protecting are the people at the top, and they've shown that they'll use any means of deception necessary to do just that.
(Photo courtesy of Arizona Indymedia.)