Home > Press > Former State Senator and Marine “Bud” Gardner Says Secret Ballot is “hallmark of our democracy”, Opposes EFCA

Former State Senator and Marine “Bud” Gardner Says Secret Ballot is “hallmark of our democracy”, Opposes EFCA

June 24th, 2009

Floridians for Responsible Policy today announced that former State Senator and retired United States Marine Colonel Winston W. “Bud” Gardner, PE of Orlando, Florida has added his voice to the growing number of Democrats that oppose the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) pending before the U.S. Congress.

“As someone who has served our country in the military and the halls of the Florida Legislature, I don’t think anyone, and especially Democrats, should be advocating stripping away the rights of workers”, said former State Senator Bud Gardner. “The secret ballot is a hallmark of our Democracy that has served us well and should not be cast aside in an attempt to increase unionization in the workplace.”

Instead of unions seeking 30% of signed cards from eligible employees to trigger the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a secret ballot election, the EFCA would replace a worker’s secret ballot with a card, signed in public, thus eliminating a worker’s basic right to privacy. This tactic would leave the worker open to undue influence, intimidation and ridicule. Currently there are guidelines, timelines and rules for each side to follow once the NLRB establishes the proper threshold has been met to hold an election. The process protects the worker, through a secret ballot, from undue influence from both the union organizers and employers. The EFCA would effectively result in allowing only unions to decide when, where and how to organize a workplace, leaving the employer out of the process.

In addition, EFCA, would implement “binding arbitration” if an agreement between the employer and the union was not reached in a certain timeframe. Currently each side has options if an agreement is not reached or one side is negotiating in bad faith. If passed, EFCA would give an arbitrator authority to implement a binding contract for two years, essentially taking away an employer’s ability to manage a business. Workers would be left out of the process all together as they would lose their ability to accept or reject the final decision of the arbitrator.

“We can and should debate the public policy goals of unions”, Gardner continued. “However, Congress should not be trying to intentionally tilt the playing field to benefit one side or the other, if for no other reason than the intended results may backfire.”

Bud Gardner, a Democrat, served on the Brevard County School Board from 1973 – 1978. He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1978 to 1988 and in the Florida Senate from 1988 to 1992. During his tenure in the Senate, he was elected President Pro Tempore from 1990-1992. He also served in the United States Marine Corp, active duty, from 1960 to 1965 and continued in the Reserve Forces until 1989. He recently retired as President and COO of TLC Engineering in Orlando, FL this year and is still actively involved in Democratic politics.