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Latest News - August 2015

August 2, 2015
Empowering individual workers rather than union bosses
By: Rick Berman

This week, Sen Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, and Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, introduced a new proposal to rebalance the rights and the law regarding employees and union bosses. The Employee Rights Act (ERA) is a package of widely supported reforms that will stop workplace abuses of both union and non-union employees by big labor unions. The ERA gives individual employees the power to control their own money, personal information, and choice for legal representation in the workplace.

Despite numerous small changes regarding individual rights, America’s basic labor law hasn’t been substantially modified since 1947.

Like “more cowbell” in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch about late-1970s rock music, unions’ current complaints (naturally) pivot around wanting more 1920s-vintage labor unionism. Union bosses are ultimately interested in the survival of their organizations (and their own six-figure paychecks), so it should surprise no one that they want to supercharge the process of intimidating, pressuring and misleading employees into unions that can take forced dues and political money out of their paychecks.

The federal labor-relations “referee,” the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has assisted unions in numerous ways since President Obama took office. Shortening organizing election time frames, giving more private contact information to union organizers, and supporting a $50 million Service Employees International Union effort to force employees into their union are all part of the new agenda. It has become abundantly clear that a majority of the 5-member NLRB believes all employees should be unionized. Unions themselves are also planning to put forward a new set of proposals that will ease unionization, including a phoenix-like resurrection of “card check” that would force unionization without a private vote.

But in an age when employees are choosing not to join unions — union “density,” the proportion of employees who are union members, in the private sector hit an modern-era low in 2014 at 6.6 percent — there is a better way to ensure that employees’ views are represented in the workplace. That better way is the Hatch-Price ERA.

The ERA offers reforms that empower individual employees rather than union bosses. The bill would give union members control over whether their money funds politics and political groups, guarantee employees a regularly scheduled revote on current union representation and protect employees from threats and intimidation by unions when expressing their views on a union free workplace. Americans are widely supportive of these reforms, with each change receiving broad cross-party support. Most generate more than 80 percent support even among Democrats and in union households.

They’d help employees like Karen Cox, a lift truck operator from central Illinois whose workplace was unionized through the dubious process of “card check.” They’d help employees like David Shirey, a Pennsylvania bus driver, who doesn’t like his union dues going to fund political candidates and causes he doesn’t support. And they’d help employees like Lee Carey, a Los Angeles Times press operator, whose union is behaving badly, ratifying a contract that was less than what he and his colleagues were originally earning. Thousands of other employees around the country who have been bullied by Big Labor would finally be able to achieve recourse if the ERA were passed.

We can reasonably expect certain union dominated candidates to carry the flag for the union message on “collective bargaining rights.” Federal Election Commission data show labor PACs throw roughly 90 percent of their contributions to Democrats, even as exit polls show 40 percent of union householders voting Republican. And with direct union contributions to the left-wing infrastructure exceeding $100 million per year for at least the past two years there’s a strong incentive for liberal politicos to keep the flow of forced dues open.

It then falls to other representatives of the people to offer a competing vision of individual employee rights.

The ERA does not restrict or attack collective bargaining or the right to have a free and fair election. It doesn’t attack benefits or wage rates. So when you hear union sycophants object to the ERA listen closely to the complaints. It is the noise of a dying idea called forced unionization.



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