EMPLOYEE RIGHTS ACT COSPONSORED BY COCHRAN & WICKER

Legislation Gives Workers More Say & Protection from Overbearing Union Tactics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced their support for legislation to give workers more of a say on whether to join a labor union, while also offering them stronger protections from union tactics regarding dues, votes and forms of intimidation.

The Employee Rights Act (S.1712) cosponsored by Cochran and Wicker represents an attempt to update U.S. labor laws for the first time in more than 50 years. Among other things, the bill would allow workers to choose or reject union representation without fear of intimidation or retribution. It also includes provisions to address secret ballot elections, union recertification, paycheck protection, strikes, and anti-racketeering loopholes.

“Labor unions today operate under outdated laws and policies that infringe on workers’ freedoms and inhibits overall economic growth. The Employee Rights Act would update the relationship between workers and unions. It would give employees greater power to determine if they want union representation and make unions more accountable to those workers,” Cochran said.

“This legislation gives workers the freedom they deserve to make the best choice for themselves,” said Wicker. “The Employee Rights Act protects employees from being forced to join unions or to have their union dues used for political purposes without their consent. It is vital that the rights of American workers are protected and not unfairly left at the whim of Big Labor.”

Introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), S.1712 is intended to ensure that the rights of workers, not the unions, are the priority under labor agreements.

In addition to Cochran and Wicker, other cosponsors include Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R -Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).

A companion measure (HR.3485) was introduced in the House by Representative Tom Price (R-Ga.). Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) is among its 45 cosponsors.

The following is a review of provisions in the Employee Rights Act (S.1712):

Secret Ballot Elections – Guarantees employees the right to a secret ballot election when deciding whether to join a union.

Union Recertification Elections – Requires unionized workplaces with employee turnover exceeding 50 percent to conduct secret ballot elections to determine whether a majority of employees still wants union representation.

Paycheck Protection – Prevents unions from using employees’ dues and fees for purposes unrelated to their bargaining functions–including political contributions and expenditures–without the employees’ written consent.

Secret Ballot Strike Votes – Provides employees the right to a secret ballot vote before union leaders can order a strike.

Prevent “Quickie” or “Snap” Elections – Negates recent National Labor Relations Board regulatory efforts to unfairly expedite union elections by preventing unions from obtaining employees’ private information and by ensuring due process in determining issues such as appropriate bargaining units and individuals’ eligibility.

Prevent Union Coercion – Permits employees to collect lost wages, illegally-collected union dues, and/or liquidated damages from a union that interferes with their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. It would allow right to petition for decertification of the union, and impose a procedural penalty on unions that interfere with the decertification petition process.

Criminalize Union Threats – Strengthens prohibitions on the use or threat of violence for achieving purposes related to unionization and collective bargaining. This provision would resolve loopholes created by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Enmons, which effectively exempts unions from federal anti-racketeering statutes.

Eliminates Needless Disparities – Conforms and make equal the definition of an “unfair labor practice” on the part of a union with that of an employer. In addition, allow every employee in a represented bargaining unit–regardless of union membership status–to have the same rights as union members to vote on the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement or to engage in strike or work stoppage. Require unions to provide audited financial statements to agency fee payers.