by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republicans are pushing for legislation that could fundamentally shift American labor law away from hereditary and coercive unionism.
On Monday, GOP lawmakers in the house and Senate introduced the Employee Rights Act, a bill that would guarantee secret ballot union elections. It also allows workers to hold regular re-certification to see whether unions still enjoy support from members, a stark change from the status quo in which unions inherit members unless employees successfully follow onerous decertification procedures.
Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) introduced the legislation in Congress with the hope that it will return the focus of labor law to individual workers, rather than businesses and unions.
“Whether it be the right to secret ballots on union elections, an opt-in requirement for union dues be used for political donations, or protection of union coercion or threats – this bill puts the power back to the individual to allow them to use their own conscience in workplace decisions,” Price said at a Monday press conference.
Workers are not always given the opportunity to take an up-or-down vote on unionization. Karen Cox, an employee at Americold Logistics in Rochelle, Ill., has been fighting to decertify the Retailers Union since it used card check procedure to unionize her and about 100 co-workers. She has since petitioned the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, with about 40 other colleagues for a secret ballot election. The agency denied two of those efforts before granting an election. A union appeal led local NLRB officials to throw out the ballots before releasing the result, according to Cox.
“We all thought we were going to have an election, make an informed decision for or against, but they snuck their way in and bypassed a secret ballot election,” she said. “I totally believe they [the NLRB] were working in the union’s interest over workers.”
Cox said politicians should understand that the status quo of labor relations has drifted away from the worker.