Congress Moving on Labor Reform

While the Senate continues drafting their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and the House works through the details of a tax-reform package, both chambers have taken steps to usher in a wave of labor law reforms to empower workers.

Last week the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on the Employee Rights Act. The legislation provides a number of protections for employees, chiefly the right to a secret ballot in election, contract, and strike decisions.

Considering 94% of workers never voted for their union, the Employee Rights Act calls for the regular re-election of unions-restoring accountability to the process.  In the absence of secret ballots and re-elections, union bosses have every incentive to advance their own agenda rather than the interest of the employees they represent.

The bill also undoes National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) ambush election rule.

This Obama-era rule drastically reduces the time frame for union elections, a blatant effort to cripple an employer’s ability to persuade its employees against unionizing. The rule also mandates employers handover employees’ personal information to union organizers during a voting campaign.

By ensuring no election occurs in less than 40 days, giving employers the chance to present their case to employees, allowing workers to opt-out of sharing the personal information, the ERA takes steps to level a currently very unfair playing field.

Over in the Senate, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with 15 other Republicans, introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The Senate bill water downs the ERA, including just the reforms to ambush elections. The Senate ought to follow the House’s more comprehensive approach to protecting worker’s rights.

For too long labor law has empowered unions at the expense of both employees and employers creating an environment toxic for economic growth and counterproductive to protecting the workers. Reform is long overdue; the Employee Rights Act is the way to ensure labor unions best serve the interest of employees, not union bosses.

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