Forbes on Fox featured all-out assault on Employee Free Choice Act

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

On Forbes on Fox, Forbes national editor Mike Ozanian declared that the Employee Free Choice Act "should be called the anti-free choice, pro-slavery bill," and Ozanian, host David Asman, and others advanced a common distortion employed by opponents of the legislation -- that it would, in the words of on-screen text that ran during the segment, "Ban Secret Votes at Work." In fact, the bill would not "ban" secret-ballot elections; rather, it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization.

During a segment in which Forbes national editor Mike Ozanian declared that the Employee Free Choice Act "should be called the anti-free choice, pro-slavery bill," the January 31 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox featured remarks by Ozanian, host David Asman, and others advancing a common distortion employed by opponents of the legislation -- that it would, in the words of on-screen text that ran during the segment, "Ban Secret Votes at Work." As The New York Times has reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization" [emphasis added]. Also during the discussion of the bill, Forbes.com contributor John Rutledge said, "Banning secret ballots, that is a terrible idea. This is a Gestapo tactic."

Asman opened the segment by asking: "[W]hy are unions still pushing to end secret ballots at the workplace?" After Ozanian referred to the Free Choice Act as "pro-slavery," Asman asked: "Would it eliminate the secret balloting?" Ozanian replied: "Essentially, yes." Later, when asked to comment, Rutledge said: "Banning secret ballots, that is a terrible idea. This is a Gestapo tactic. Look, America is about individual freedoms, not about coercion, not about public ballots. What we need to -- I've lived in places where they don't have secret ballots. I've lived in Cold War Berlin, I've lived in Argentina and China, in the Persian Gulf. Trust me, fellas, you don't want to go there." Fox Business Network stocks editor Elizabeth MacDonald responded: "I think John is absolutely right. And you know, it's coercion, intimidation and inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the aisle." Rutledge also later asserted: "I do not want to give anyone the right to ban open elections -- secret elections -- anywhere in America." During the segment, on-screen text read, "Union Membership Soaring; Why Ban Secret Votes at Work?" and "Unions Push to Ban Secret Votes at Work as Membership Soars."

These repeated distortions of the Free Choice Act were rebutted at one point during the segment by Forbes national editor Quentin Hardy. When asked by Asman whether there is "some way to be in favor of card check and still be in favor of secret balloting," Hardy responded:"Well, I think that's what this law's about. It's interesting to me that after I pointed out that this is just about giving workers a choice where previously management has a choice on the election style, three of you said it's about banning secret ballots. It's not. It's about giving the workers the choice of what style they want."

As Media Matters for America has noted, the House Committee on Education and Labor has described the claim that "[t]he Employee Free Choice Act abolishes the National Labor Relations Board's 'secret ballot' election process" as a "myth," and stated on its website: "The Employee Free Choice Act would make that choice -- whether to use the NLRB election process or majority sign-up -- a majority choice of the employees, not the employer." Supporters of the legislation say employers often use the election process to delay, obstruct, and intimidate workers in an effort to resist organizing efforts.

From the January 31 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox:

ASMAN: Well, job losses mounting and union membership's soaring, so why are unions still pushing to end secret ballots at the workplace? Hi, everybody, I'm David Asman. Welcome to Forbes on Fox. Here with us today: [Forbes senior writer] Neil Weinberg, Elizabeth MacDonald, and Mike Ozanian, along with [Forbes associate editor] Jack Gage, Quentin Hardy, and John Rutledge. So, Mike Ozanian, what about this new rule that would essentially make it easier for unions to organize?

OZANIAN: David, this bill should be called the anti-free choice, pro-slavery bill.

ASMAN: Pro-slavery?

OZANIAN: It would be bad for the economy, bad for jobs, and bad for consumers. It would essentially allow unions to bully people into joining them.

ASMAN: Would it eliminate the secret balloting?

OZANIAN: Essentially, yes.

ASMAN: All right.

[...]

ASMAN: John Rutledge, I love Neil. He's honest. He said yeah, there will be coercion, but it will equalize things. So what do you think of it?

RUTLEDGE: I'm tired of people figuring out whether to support one side or the other side fighting each other. Banning secret ballots, that's a terrible idea. This is a Gestapo tactic. Look, America is about individual freedoms, not about coercion, not about public ballots. What we need to -- I've lived in places where they don't have secret ballots. I've lived in Cold War Berlin, I've lived in Argentina and China, in the Persian Gulf. Trust me, fellas, you don't want to go there. You don't want to go there.

ASMAN: It's not the kind of American way that we're used to, E-Mac, that's what John was saying.

MacDONALD: Yeah, I think John is absolutely right. And you know, there's, you know, coercion, intimidation, and inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. And you know, talk about the Pundit Polling Act. How about Stewart Acuff, special assistant to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, saying that union surveys show nearly 260 -- nearly 60 million people would join a union if there was no fear and intimidation. That's about half the workforce. Was it a polling of those two alone? I mean, who did they poll? Where did they get that number?

OZANIAN: Yeah, and let's be honest here. The only reason why Barack Obama is so for this bill is because the unions lined his pockets in his campaign. This is a way to pay back those who supported his presidency. That's all it is.

GAGE: Absolutely. No question about it. But I think also addressing the decline over the past 25 years for union membership is the fact that free trade works better. Opening borders, allowing workers to be competitive on a global stage is a better way to create job security.

ASMAN: [Unintelligible] Isn't there some way to be in favor of card check and still be in favor of secret balloting?

HARDY: Well, I think that's what this law's about. It's interesting to me that after I pointed out this is just about giving workers a choice where previously management has a choice on the election style, three of you said it's about banning secret ballots. It's not. It's about giving the workers the choice of what style they want.

ASMAN: Jack [unintelligible] said no.

GAGE: It's not about style. They have the choice to join a union or not right now. This is about giving unions more influence.

HARDY: They are intimidated in 51 percent of cases, Jack.

[...]

ASMAN: And John Rutledge, you know, a lot of the works programs in the new stimulus bill focus on government getting bigger, and there would be more government unions. Is there an ulterior motive here to try to increase the number of public sector union membership?

RUTLEDGE: Well, of course everybody has got an ulterior motive, David, but the problem here, and I can't believe I'm hearing this, there's a difference between fundamental rights and temporary economic issues or groups fighting each other. It is a terrible mistake to mix the two. I do not want to give anyone the right to ban open elections -- secret elections -- anywhere in America.

HARDY: They have choice.

GAGE: Absolutely right. And listen, we also have to remember that unions, back in the free trade thing, strangle competitiveness. That's a big downside to this, that ability to grow unions, whether it's through influence or other means, is bad news for the U.S. economy.

ASMAN: But Mike Ozanian, it is all about choice. The American system is about choice, as Quentin is pointing out, this would not remove the choice element from the workplace, or would it?

OZANIAN : It certainly would, David, because the unions would be given a platform which to bully people into joining them, and that's the big problem --

ASMAN: Isn't the NLRB around to make sure the bullying doesn't take place on either side?

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
David Asman, Elizabeth MacDonald, Mike Ozanian, John Rutledge
Show/Publication
Forbes on Fox
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