Thriving businesses of all sizes and shapes are the backbone of our communities in Washington and they’re key to ensuring that this area of our country remains a special place to live, work, and play. Great businesses work hard to hire great people, and then they’re a team, working together so everyone prospers. But that kind of fair partnership doesn’t work for President Biden and his friends in the big unions.

As a small business owner, I know that democracy and fairness in the American workplace, employee freedom, and employer free speech are the glue that holds together a well-functioning economy. 

Unfortunately, President Biden and his big union supporters are pushing executive actions and even legislation that takes away the principle of open competition when it comes to labor agreements, putting the federal government’s big thumb on the scale against small and big businesses alike.

Perhaps most egregious of these actions is the relentless pressure for “neutrality agreements,” a poorly named euphemism if I’ve ever heard one. Through these compacts, employers are forced to give up the right to even offer their opinion about unionization. Excessive union executive compensation? Can’t talk about it. Corruption scandals in the past? Off the table.

If that sounds wrong, it’s because it is, and silencing employers goes against decades of legal and judicial precedent. Congress enshrined this right into law more than 70 years ago. But it’s not good enough for the big unions.

In these neutrality agreements, union organizers can say just about anything as they proceed with what is known as a “card check” campaign. Card check campaigns toss aside a properly administered and observed secret ballot process that ought to be the gold standard. Instead, union leaders can pressure workers to sign cards pledging their support, opening the door to harassment and intimidation, something that has happened far too frequently and has been well-documented.

In this crazy card-check-and-neutrality world, workers who don’t sign cards still lose their right to voice their opinion through a secret ballot. If a majority of employees do sign cards, even under circumstances that could be seen as questionable, and the employer agrees to recognize a union, that union now gets a monopoly to represent all workers at the workplace.

I want to be clear: I believe employees have the right to express their opinions about unionization, and they have the right to join or reject union representation though a proper secret ballot. And I believe employers should have the right to tell their side of the story before that vote.

But in the Biden administration’s view, the unions should get to tell employers, “shut up.” They’re even going so far as to pressure employers trying to compete for federal grants into these neutrality agreements. In other words, if you want the federal money, you better agree to the Big Union demands.

As the unions have lost influence with rank-and-file workers over the recent decades, they’ve resorted to corporate pressure campaigns, using shareholders, consumers, and union-friendly politicians to pressure businesses to accept neutrality and card check, capturing more workers as members, whether workers want it or not.

Under the Biden administration, the National Labor Relations Board – which is supposed to be a neutral arbitrator in federal labor relations — is aiding the big unions and hurting the workers. 

I believe this is certainly not the kind of policy Senator Maria Cantwell should support. Here’s hoping she steps up to protect the rights and freedoms for small Washington employers and the workers they employ.

Nansen Malin is a member of the Ocean Beach School District Board of Directors and a small business owner.

Seaview, WA