It’s time to better protect workers’ rights

American Experiment has joined a coalition of organizations across the country urging Congress to empower American workers and protect their freedom of choice in the workplace.

Through the Employee Rights Act of 2022 (ERA), America’s antiquated labor code would be updated to better protect workers’ rights in the 21st century and would reflect the major changes our economy has undergone in recent generations.

The legislation will be introduced tomorrow (March 22) by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and includes a number of key provisions that give our nation’s workers the protections and choices they need.

Political Protection

Hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues are spent each year supporting political candidates and causes instead of collective bargaining issues. Government unions are notorious for almost exclusively financially supporting one political party and its affiliates. The ERA would require workers to consent to their union dues going towards anything other than collective bargaining efforts.

According to a March survey conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS, 76 percent of union households agree that “unions should be required to get employees’ permission before using their dues money to support political causes or candidates.”

Secret Ballot Elections

Because workers are legally represented by unions in workplace negotiations, such representation should be legitimized through the democratic process of secret ballot elections, in which workers vote in favor of such representation.

But unions can bypass private votes in favor of a public “card check” election, in which they go around collecting signatures of “cards” as evidence that a majority of workers want union representation. This opens up employees to potential harassment or intimidation to sign a card authorizing the union to represent them. Secret ballots ensure workers have a private, protected vote that represents their true preference for unionization in their workplace.

Seventy-six percent of union households support employees having the “right to a supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union.”

Criminalized Union Threats

Union membership is a personal decision, yet that doesn’t always prevent workers from being pressured into joining. Under the ERA, union officials would be federally prohibited and criminalized for coercion or threats. The bill also has provisions that establish privacy protections for employees that limit calls and other election activities outside the workplace.

Eighty-four percent of union households support employees’ “right to be free from violence, coercion, intimidation, and threats from union leaders attempting to unionize” them.

Union Decertification

The ERA would codify a 2019 NLRB ruling and its new standard that would overrule prior precedent. The coalition letter explains:

Under this provision, evidence of a union’s actual loss of majority support, if received by an employer within 90 days prior to contract expiration, conclusively rebuts a union’s presumptive continuing majority status when the contract expires.

Sixty-five percent of polled union households believe “workers who have lost confidence in their union should be able to work with their employer to remove the union without interference.”

Protection for Local Businesses

The Save Local Business Act included in the ERA clarifies the joint employer standard for small business owners and workers. “It would allow more franchisees to own their own businesses, giving more Americans the opportunity to realize their dream of starting their own business,” according to the coalition letter.

Gig Worker Benefits

Gig workers — also known as independent contractors or freelancers — enjoy the flexibility the temporary positions offer. However, employers are limited in which benefits they can extend to gig workers because they are considered non-employees. As noted in the coalition letter:

The ERA allows employers to extend benefits to independent contractors without the workers having to abandon their flexibility. The ERA also includes the Modern Worker Empowerment ACT, a subsection that updates the law to keep the definition of an “employee” in line with the common-law definition used by numerous state statutes and in recent Supreme Court rulings.

Sixty-seven percent of union households polled support gig workers receiving workplace benefits without losing the flexibility of their independent contractor status.

NLRA Reform

Union “salting” — which involves union members recruiting potential members by getting jobs at non-union work sites — is a coercive union tactic that the ERA would protect small businesses and employees from through its Truth in Employment Act.

The ERA also codifies enhanced reporting requirements for unions, which would give workers more transparency on how their union operates.