Empowering Workers Not Labor Unions

Background: Labor unions and their bosses often have goals that do not line up with the desires of workers. When the interests of unions come in conflict with the interests of workers, unions typically make decisions that benefit them rather than employees. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has further exasperated this problem. When it was first established, Congress intended the NLRB to function as an impartial arbitrator mediating disputes between unions and businesses, but under the Obama administration, the Board consistently proposed and enforced rules that favored labor unions over both workers and employers.

These included: the Ambush Election Rule that shortens the time employers have to convince workers not to join a union, the Micro-Union Rule that allow unions to organize separate groups of workers within one company by job title, the Joint Employer Standard that empowers union members over business owners they indirectly work with, and undermining secret-ballot voting that protects worker privacy.

Problem: Past and recent union rules enacted by the NLRB and pushed by union bosses stifle job creation and undermine workers’ rights. Too often, union leaders put their desire to expand union size, revenue and power above the interest of their workers. In an effort to expand their power and influence, unions use dues to pay for political activities, discourage secret ballot elections to form a union, go on strike, or accept a contract, and suppress efforts by workers to replace union leaders. As a result, union leaders are no longer accountable to their members as 94 percent of union members never voted for the union that currently represents them.

Solution: In order to rebalance labor law in favor of workers rather than union bosses, Congress should pass the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 2723). Introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), the Employee Rights Act would guarantee employees the rights to:

  • Vote privately in a secret ballot election before forming a union;
  • Opt out of having their personal contact information provided to a union during an organizing drive;
  • Hear from employers at least 40 days prior to voting in a union election;
  • Vote in a secret ballot election before accepting a contract or going on strike;
  • Vote regularly on re-electing their union;
  • Decide whether their union can spend their dues on matters unrelated to collective bargaining; and,
  • Be free from union interference or extortion in exercising their legal rights.

This legislation is a major step forward in curbing the abuses of unions and will help ensure that unions best serve the interest of employees, not union bosses. Congress should also take steps to roll back the NLRB’s actions on ambush elections, the joint employer standard, and micro-unions.

Call to Action: The Employee Rights Act was cosponsored by 137 members of Congress when it was introduced last session by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Heritage Action has endorsed this legislation and urges Sentinels to contact their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the bill.

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