Co-Sponsorship of the Employee Rights Act (S.1874)

The Employee Rights Act (S.1874 / H.R. 3222), introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 34% and House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) 74%, would protect workers from union pressure by putting power in the hands of employees and making union leaders more accountable to their members.  As the Heritage Foundation notes, if union bosses “were angels, such changes would be unnecessary” but “since they are not” new protections are necessary.

Heritage explains the legislation 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;
  • 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.

Workers should not be pressured or coerced by unions or union leaders to take actions that undermine their rights.  Protecting the voting rights of employees is essential:

Under general union representation, employees relinquish their individual negotiating authority to a union. The union becomes the sole representative of the employees in negotiations with their employer. Unionized employers must negotiate employment terms with the union and the union alone. They may not bargain with individual workers.

Though the purpose of unions is ostensibly to protect workers, unions often fail to do so because they are motivated by the “institutional objectives” of expanding in size, income and influence.  They want “contracts that protect their institutional powers.”  Where the interests of unions come in conflict with the interests of workers, unions often make decisions that benefit them rather than employees.

In an effort to expand power and influence, unions discourage secret ballot elections or work to eliminate them altogether; this results in the loss of privacy benefits for workers.  Unions can also currently call for strike without first consulting workers.  Workers should have a say in decisions that put their jobs at risk.  The Employee Rights Act would amend this by requiring a secret ballot vote before a union can call a strike. Furthermore, the bill would solidify paycheck protection provisions, provide a mechanism for union recertification, and criminalize union threats.

The Employee Rights Act would solve problems workers face today – including problems enshrined in current labor law.  The bill would help restore a balance of power in the workplace from unions to workers.

Heritage Action supports S.1874 and H.R. 3222 and will include CO-SPONSORSHIP of this legislation in our scorecard.