It’s not hard to see why. Members are voting with their feet as union bosses and union bureaucracies enforce a stingy, self-serving, and anti-democratic definition of workers’ rights. They’re against secret ballots when voting. They’re against majority member approval for strikes.
That’s why Big Labor is bringing out the big guns against Hatch, Scott, and the ERA. The ERA guarantees workers a private vote – the gold standard of free and fair elections, as our highest courts affirm – and not just to recertify existing unions, but to choose whether or not to join a union in the first place.
Union leaders can call a strike at whim, halting economic activity without employees getting a say. The ERA ensures that all affected workers, not just union members, will be able to vote in private before any strike can proceed.
Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act holds employers accountable – but not labor organizers – if they “interfere with” employees exercising their rights. There’s no reason to make workers endure the same kind of bad conduct from unions that’s punished when it comes from employers. So the ERA penalizes everyone equally, letting workers focus on doing their jobs well instead of worrying about political intimidation from above.
In today’s economic climate, reforms like these are overwhelmingly supported by everyday Americans, including union families. Employees overwhelmingly inherit unions they had no say in joining, much less creating. Yet over 80 percent of union households support the ERA provision for mandatory union recertification every three years, as Opinion Research Corp. has polled. That’s the kind of control Big Labor doesn’t want to surrender. Once in office, their deal looks more like a lifetime appointment than an elected representative.
They’re accustomed to the comforts of power. The unions funnel over 95 percent of their members money to Democrats, despite the opposition of much of the rank and file. In 2008, nearly 40 percent of union members voted for John McCain and against Barack Obama, and over a third of voters from union households chose the Republican candidate in House races, as PolitiFact.com confirmed.
Add in those who identify as political independents, and union members look nothing like the monolithic voting bloc that their leadership is – and spends their money to appear to be. The ERA guarantees employees the right not to help pay for union political activities and party support. That’s another reason it’s the target of false criticism and rhetoric designed to discredit what common sense and public opinion approve.
Logan is right that these are “bizarre times” for labor politics in America. He thinks of achievements like secret ballots and paycheck protection as no more than “red meat issues” for Republicans. For, many union households, including constituents represented by Democrats, these reforms expand and protect rights that Big Labor is fighting tooth and nail against.
There’s no legitimate reason to prevent a vote on the ERA – and plenty of reasons why it ought to pass.
Berman is the executive director of the Center for Union Facts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit union watchdog.