Lost in news of scandals, faux scandals, potential tax reform and all variety of partisan bickering is a congressional bill that would put workers in control of their unions.
The Employee Rights Act, or Senate Bill 1874, is steadily gaining support in Congress, as President Donald Trump would likely sign it into law. Two Colorado Republican members of Congress, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, are among 105 House co-sponsors who are all Republicans.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., might sign on with 19 Senate Republican sponsors, and the list is destined to grow.
"Senator Gardner was a cosponsor of this legislation last Congress. He is currently reviewing this version and remains supportive of the concept," explains an email from Gardner's office to The Gazette.
The bill could win bipartisan support, if better understood. Introduced in September by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill would:
- Guarantee private ballots in elections
- Mandate scheduled union recertification by vote of union members
- Require permission of union members before spending their dues on political races
- Establish "majority vote" as the threshold for deciding election outcomes
- Enhance personal privacy of union members from union leaders
- Prevent coercion by union leaders
- Ensure ballot privacy in strike elections
- Criminalize threats against union members by union leaders
Labor unions have been, and remain, a vital component of the checks and balances that maintain constructive labor/management relations. Unions have increased compensation and protected workers' interests for generations.
Just like poorly regulated employers sometimes abuse their authority, so do poorly regulated union leaders. Congress has not substantially updated union regulations in 70 years. Meanwhile, union tactics and workplaces have changed substantially.
A survey found four of five Americans support the concept of the Employee Rights Act.
The bill is not anti-union. It is pro-worker, by making unions more responsive to the needs and wishes of union members.
By requiring routine recertification elections, the law would cause union bosses to work only in the interests of members. If union membership is not worth the dues, members will vote to decertify. If the union is helping workers, members will gladly vote to recertify and continue paying dues.
By ensuring private ballots, the law would liberate workers to vote without fear. The law would prevent spending of union dues on candidates a majority of members may not like. This is common sense.
Every detail of the Employee Rights Act would make unions more supportive of the members who fund them.
Unions are important but should represent only the interests of members who voluntarily join. Republicans and Democrats who care about workers should support this bill.