The Employee Rights Act


By:  Tim Scott
Date: Sept. 13, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

By Rep. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Tim Scott

America's laws have long recognized the need to protect workers from abuse. In 1935, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which ensured that employees would have the right join a union ­ or to refrain from doing so -- free of harassment or intimidation.

In 1959, after a numerous hearings examining corruption within the labor movement, Congress passed the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) in an effort to bolster self-governance, transparency, and democracy within unions.

But, since that time, progress for workers' rights has stalled.

As Big Labor and employers continue their ongoing power struggles, the rights of individual workers are far too often lost in the shuffle. And, as we've seen under the Obama Administration, legal protections for workers who may oppose unionization can be easily swept aside by ideological bureaucrats.

For these reasons, we've introduced the Employee Rights Act, a bicameral, pro-worker piece of legislation to bolster democracy in the workplace.

First, the Employee Rights Act will require a secret ballot vote in all union elections.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, nearly 40 percent of all unions certified in 2009 did not have to go through an election. Presumably, most of these unions were certified through a combination of card checks and decisions by employers to accept the union without demanding a vote.

Over the years, we've all heard the troubling accounts of unions obtaining signatures through deception and intimidation. And, we've all heard about union organizing campaigns and boycotts that have all but forced employers to give up their right to demand a secret ballot vote. Under the Employee Rights Act, that right will belong to the employees, and it will be guaranteed.

While requiring these votes is important, it is only the first step in restoring democracy in America's workforce. The vast majority of current union members ­ more than 90 percent according to some estimates ­ never had an opportunity to vote for their union, neither by card nor by ballot. They simply accepted jobs at workplaces that were already unionized and, in many cases, they were forced to begin paying dues as a condition of employment.

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