As a candidate for office, I get quite a few Candidate Questionnaires from various groups that want to know what my positions are on the issues of the day to help determine whether they will endorse me or not. What is interesting to me as an elected official is what I can learn from these questionnaires. Some of the Candidate Questionnaires are pretty simple and straight forward, but some seem less like a questionnaire and more like an employment contract.
I affirmatively seek the endorsement and support of the SEIU/MO/KS State Council, its members, and their families. In seeking this endorsement, I pledge to support the rights of workers to join a union and collectively bargain. I understand that as a community leader, I may be called upon to help workers form unions, efforts that may include speaking with employers and urging them to respect these same rights. As an elected official, I will maintain regular contact with SEIU local leaders and members.
Hmm. The first part of this questionnaire does not appear to be a question, but a broad promise, or maybe an employment contract. I'm not prepared to sign this promise, but I am going to proceed with the questions they have for me.
However, before I get to the official question #1 of the questionnaire, there is a section entitled "Working With SEIU Members." Under this section is a question asking that if I am elected, will I commit to walking picket lines? There are other questions under this heading too, such as “If elected will I speak at rallies, hold a press conference, and mediate with employers?” Apparently to get this endorsement, I will also have to commit to “attending SEIU leadership and worksite meetings” and “work to appoint qualified union members to Appropriate Boards and Commissions.”
Well, I decide to skip this section for now and get on to the questions. Uh oh, before I get to the official question #1, there is a section called "Candidate Pledge." The suspense is killing me at this at this point. What am I being asked to pledge before I even get to the questionnaire?
I decide that I am going to look at this Candidate Pledge section more closely because the bottom of this pledge has a signature requirement, and this questionnaire is beginning to make me feel like the SEIU is going to ask me to unionize the members of the House and Senate so we could collectively bargain for higher wages.
In my closer look at the pledge, I notice section Number 4 urges me to commit "to publicly support and actively encourage a fair and fast process for determining worker support for unionization including secret ballot or card check recognition." I am now fully aware (if I was not before this point) of what I am being requested to pledge to in order to get the endorsement of this group. They want (among many other indecent proposals) me to publicly advocate for a system that treats a secret ballot election for workers to express their desire for unionization the same as Card Check. I am now recalling that Card Check is the method whereby a person attempting to unionize a group of workers can approach those workers individually with a card for him or her to sign expressing his or her commitment to unionize, which the organizing individual can request that the worker sign right then and there in the presence of the union organizer.
Images go through my mind of the scene from The Godfather where Michael Corleone is talking about how someone can be convinced of something, and the line goes something like, "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse, Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract." I am sure the Card Check guy would not be so forceful, but I can't get that image out of my mind. It does make me wonder if the activity is on the same continuum of “convincing techniques.”
It is interesting to me that a SEIU would use the terms Card Check and secret ballot election in the same sentence and in such a way as to give the impression that there is some degree of equivalency to the two terms. I am thinking of the process of voting for elected officials. No one is allowed to approach the voter within 100 feet of the voting booth. What if my campaign did not have to be about the issues and concerns of citizens? What if I could man (or woman) the polling places with campaign workers who would lean over the voters as they cast their vote and suggest that it would be better if they voted for my guy? My gut check about Card Check reaffirms my commitment to secret ballots for unionizing, so I move on.
After these preliminary sections, I finally get to the official questions of this "questionnaire," and question #1 is "Would you actively and publicly oppose any attempt to pass a law or to amend the state constitution to make Missouri a so-called "Right to Work" state?" At that point, though I consider myself a dedicated public servant, I decide I have better things to do, like change my new guitar strings, straighten my stereo wires, or check the air in my tires (like Barack wants me to do to save gas). Passing “Right to Work” for Missouri is one of my goals before term limits return me to full-time orthopedics. I think I am done with this questionnaire.