GOP Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Calling For Major Labor Reforms

Ted Goodman | Reporter

Republican lawmakers offered a version of labor reform Thursday, the same day Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled a federal $15 minimum wage proposal

Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe reintroduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA) Thursday, which would significantly amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA was passed “in 1935 to protect the rights of both employees and employers and encourage collective bargaining.”

Last session, 170 members of Congress, including 33 senators, co-sponsored the legislation last session.

“The rights of American workers were under attack during the Obama presidency, and it is time to restore those rights and work to foster a pro-growth, pro-employee environment,” Roe said in a press release. “This legislation will ensure individuals’ rights are upheld when considering whether or not they wish to join a union.”

The ERA includes labor law reforms specific to unions and membership, calling for secret ballot elections, something that is not always guaranteed today. As it stands, labor organizers can issue authorization cards, which forces employees to make their vote public. A union organizer can collect these cards and if they can get a majority of members to sign on, they can take them to the National Labor Relations Board to demand certification.

The ERA would also require all unionized workplaces to hold secret ballot elections periodically in order to determine whether or not they wish to be represented by their current union. When 50 percent of the workplace is turned over, the union would automatically be put up for a re-vote instead of existing in perpetuity. The ERA mandates re-certification after substantial turnover.

The legislation proposes political protection for members. Currently, members are often unaware of where their union dues are going. The ERA would require unions to receive affirmative permission from members to use his or her dues payments for political spending. Unions often back liberal non-profits and advocacy groups without full membership awareness.

“The Employee Rights Act would substantially update American labor law for the first time since the 1940s,” Center for Union Facts Executive Director Richard Berman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Current labor law is rigged in favor of union leadership against the interest of its own members.

The proposed bill also strengthens the NLRB’s ability to enforce anti-coercion and anti-intimidation rules. The ERA would give the NLRB the right to de-certify a union for intimidating members and criminalizes union threats.

“Union elites have grown unresponsive to their members, trampling their workplace rights to maintain power,” Berman asserted. “National and regional polling clearly indicates union members support the ERA. The complicity and silence of Democrats in denying employee rights is embarrassing.”

Roe argued that the ERA isn’t anti union, asserting that it’s commonsense.

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