Senate Republicans introduce ‘workers’ rights’ bill to hobble unions

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The changes would eliminate the presumption under the National Labor Relations Act that a union’s interests are the same as that of the workers it represents and require unions to expend time and energy proving that to be the case.

Washington – Senate Republicans have introduced legislation that would radically reshape federal labor law to hobble unions under the guise of protecting workers’ rights.

The bill is endorsed by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch Brothers-funded advocacy group notorious for backing anti-union, anti-worker legislation such “right-to-work,” and Heritage Action, a sister organization to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Called the Employee Rights Act, the legislation would require unions to get written permission from members before using their dues for political purposes. It would also mandate recertification votes following significant turnover at a workplace to determine if the union still has majority support of workers, among other changes.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the lead sponsor of the legislation, in typical political double speak, said, “The bill does not include a single provision that empowers employers at the expense of unions.”

Here’s the truth:

• If a union fails the recertification vote, it would lose the right to be the workers’ exclusive representative for collective bargaining.

• In organizing elections, the legislation would require unions to win a majority of all of the workers, not just the number of votes cast in the election.

• The legislation would nullify an Obama-era rule by the National Labor Relations Board shortening the time period from when elections are authorized to when they are held, a time period often used by employers to mount anti-union campaigns.

• It would require workers to give permission to their employers to give their contact information to unions. Under current law, employers must give the information to unions seeking to represent their employees.

Taken together, the changes would eliminate the presumption under the National Labor Relations Act that a union’s interests are the same as that of the workers it represents and require unions to expend time and energy proving that to be the case.

The Senate bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), James Risch (R-ID), John Cornyn (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Todd Young (R-IN), James Lankford (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV) Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Shelby (R-AL) David Perdue (R-GA) and Ben Sasse (R-NE).

A House version of the legislation was introduced by Republicans in May. It currently has 90 co-sponsors, all Republicans.

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