The core principles of democracy are what made us the greatest nation the Earth has ever seen. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has the right to voice his or her opinion.
Unfortunately, too often those very principles are ignored in workplaces across the nation. Employees are forced to pay dues to unions they never voted to form, and their union dues are used to benefit candidates they would never support. In some states, union leaders can choose to go on strike without majority support from their fellow employees.
My home state of South Carolina is a right-to-work state, where the rights of all workers, union or not, are protected. While this makes us the target of Big Labor, such as with last year’s ridiculous accusations by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing in North Charleston, the facts are on our side. Recently, economist Arthur Laffer crunched the numbers and learned that personal incomes in — and the state economies of — right-to-work states are growing faster than non-right-to-work states.
That is why I have introduced the Employee Rights Act, along with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The Employee Rights Act is not an anti-union bill; it is simply a mechanism to ensure the voices of ALL workers are heard. And, most importantly, it is the culmination of reforms that have the support of a majority of Americans—both union and non-union.
Only 10 percent of current union members voted to unionize at their place of employment. This is same number of Americans that support BOTH the Tea Party AND Occupy movements. In addition, it is incredibly difficult to decertify a union once it is created, regardless of the views of its members. In 2009, 593 attempts to remove a union were processed by National Labor Relations Board, with fewer than half receiving a vote and many being abandoned due to intimidation.
My bill will require secret ballot elections every three years to recertify a union – giving every employee a chance to have their voice heard. Recent polls show 75 percent of Americans are supportive of this measure.
Another startling set of numbers tells the same story – while union members are split nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats, 93 percent of union political contributions go to the left. I don’t know about you, but if my money is being used for political purposes, I would like for it to be supporting people and initiatives in which I believe. Employees who don’t want their dues spent on political contributions are forced to undergo an onerous process to receive a refund. The act would change this so employees would have to give consent for how their dues are used for political contributions, and 78 percent of Americans support this.
Another important provision ensures union leaders cannot order a strike without the consent of a majority of their members. There is currently no national standard in place nationwide regarding this issue, meaning in some states union leaders have carte blanche to order a strike – regardless of whether or not it is best for their members and their families. Three-quarters of Americans support establishing a national standard to make certain a majority of union members approves of going on strike.
Finally, the Employee Rights Act will also ensure the NLRB’s attempt to force “quickie elections” is not successful. While current processing time for an election to unionize is around 40 days, the NLRB wants to make it possible for a union to form in less than 10. This is unacceptable – 10 days gives neither employees nor employers the proper time to research what is best for their futures.
The future of our country depends on a strong workforce and a dynamic economy. By fighting for the rights of ALL workers, we are not only protecting our future, but protecting our democracy itself.