Politics

Republican Senators Introduce New Legislation To Fight Labor Unions

| by Ethan Brown

Members of Congress introduced legislation for a second time on July 27 that is meant to help prevent employees from being forced to join unions.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah reintroduced the Employee Rights Act. The legislation creates new rules on how workers are allowed to organize a union and make it simpler to disband it, Fox News reported. At the announcement on July 28, Hatch was joined by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who both worked closely with Hatch on the proposal.

“This legislation presents the kind of reform American workers and businesses need to succeed in today’s global economy,” Hatch said at the press conference. “The Employee Rights Act champions workers’ rights and strengthens our economy.”

Hatch insisted the proposal was “not a partisan action, nor is it a Republican or a Democrat issue" even though support or opposition to labor unions typically falls along party lines.

Hatch originally introduced the legislation during the 2012-2013 session, but Republicans were in the minority in the Senate at the time and the bill was largely ignored by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the former majority leader. With Republicans now leading the House and the Senate, the proposal has a much higher chance of passing.

One provision in the proposal would require unions to get “opt-in” approval from members before dues can be used for political purposes. While 40 percent of union members are registered Republicans, almost all financial contributions unions make are for Democratic candidates, St. George News reported.

Another change would give union members privacy and protection in casting a ballot whether they would like to unionize or strike. If a union is created, another vote would be cast if workplace turnover exceeded 50 percent; if no vote took place, the union would automatically be dispersed, The Hill reported.

“Frankly, companies today, there’s hardly anyone employed who has ever voted for a union, and yet they’re stuck with union dues, and they’re stuck with union control,” Hatch said.

As expected, no Democrats are supporting the legislation even though Republicans already stated their intent in leaving ideologies out of the debate. The debate on unions and workers’ rights has made political headlines in many states in the Midwest over the last several years.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, now a 2016 presidential contender, won a recall battle in 2012 after he and the Republican-controlled state legislature voted to remove collective bargaining rights from union workers. Moreover, “right-to-work” legislation, or laws that do not force employees to join unions, have passed in Michigan and Indiana.

Sources: Fox News, The Hill, St. George News / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons