ATLANTA (January 29, 2009) – State Senator Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) has introduced legislation defending Georgia workers’ ability to vote by secret ballot in union organizing elections. Johnson proposed a state constitutional amendment to protect Georgians from a national attempt to end the use of the secret ballot called The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).  Sen. Johnson filed his constitutional amendment today, which secures the right to a secret ballot for nearly all elections, including those for union representation. 

“A voter’s right to a secret ballot is an essential and fundamental principle in our society. Without the ability to vote secretly, individual political freedom will decline and be subject to threats and intimidation by those who want voters to pursue a specific course of action or ideology.”

If EFCA becomes federal law it would forego secret ballot union votes and implement a practice commonly known as “card check.” Card check is where workers are encouraged to sign a membership card which then serves as a favorable vote for unionizing. Once a union organizer has enough cards signed by the majority of workers, an employer is required to recognize all employees as a union

“Replacing a worker’s private vote with a piece of paper that is potentially signed under harassment is a travesty. Card check is nothing more than a power grab by union bosses that will come at the expense of hardworking Georgians,” said Johnson.

Sen. Johnson is responsible for introducing the Senate’s version of this measure, while a similar House Resolution is making its way through the Industrial Relations Committee.  Both measures have received bipartisan support. 

This initiative is just one of a number that are being introduced in several other states across the nation.  The proposed amendment states, “The right of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. Where local, state, or federal law requires elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or requires designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed.” 

If passed by the General Assembly, the measure will appear on the 2010 ballot for consideration.

For more information on the Georgia State Senate, please visit www.senate.ga.gov.

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Sen. Eric Johnson of the 1st Senate district serves as the chairman of the Ethics Committee. He represents Bryan County and portions of Chatham and Liberty counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.5109 or via e-mail at eric.johnson@senate.ga.gov.