When a union attempts to organize a work-place, it needs to get a specified percentage of targeted workers (I believe it is 30%) to petition for a unionizing vote, which is conducted by secret ballot.

Allowing workers to vote their preference in secret, free from harassment and intimidation, has become an obstacle to workplace organizing, so a top priority of the union movement is replacing the secret ballot with the “card-check” system.

Card-check does away with the secret ballot. Instead, union organizers go to work on employees to sign cards stating they want to be represented by the union. Once a majority of workers have been, This is done publicly, in full view of their co-workers and union organizers.  Union organizers know exactly who does and who doesn’t support unionization, making workers vulnerable to harassment and intimidation. Anyone who doesn’t think that would happen should attend an Anaheim City Council meeting packed with UNITE-HERE members.

Which brings me to the point of this post. During council comments at this week’s Anaheim City Council meeting, Councilman Jordan Brandman read a letter he had sent to Tim Ryan, the president and CEO of Anaheim Arena Management (AAM), which operates The Honda Center (go to the 3:01:16 mark on the council meeting video). The letter made several requests of AAM:

  • Meet with UNITE-HERE Local 11 and himself to discuss the process of transiting food service from Aramark to AAM
  • Consider hiring all existing Aramark employees for an evaluation period


“If a majority of the new employees at Honda Center decide to be represented by a labor organization, would Anaheim Arena management be supportive of majority sign-up, or card check? Under this process, workers who want a union would sign a card asking the union to represent them in collective bargaining, and if a majority signs the cards, the union is entitled to recognition.

It is my understanding that Anaheim Arena Management has indicated that it has no objection to the organizing of a collective bargaining unit. In view of that, considering majority sign-up/card check would further ensure that workers may freely do so.”

Jordan is a friend whom I supported for City Council and continue to support, but this is an issue where we respectfully part ways. Card-check diminishes free choice in workplace organizing and enhances opportunities for coercion. Unions such as UNITE-HERE like card-check because it significantly increases the odds of successfully organizing a workplace. It’s a truism that public peer pressure (or worse) will agree to something in public they wouldn’t support in private; that is the nature of peer pressure and the underlying dynamic of card-check.

Organizing Honda Center food service employees post Aramark isn’t about protecting the rights of those workers — it is about protecting the bottom line of UNITE-HERE Local 11, which needs the dues money of those 500-plus worker to keep flowing.

If UNITE-HERE Local 11 wants to organize those workers, it should do it the traditional way: persuade them that representation by UNITE-HERE is in their best interest. If their case is persuasive enough, allowing employees to make their choice via a secret ballot should not prove to be an obstacle.

Anaheim Arena Management should accept Councilman Brandman’s invitation to a meeting with himself and UNITE-HERE, and politely but firmly decline the use of card-check.