Republicans fire new salvo at labor unions

Republicans fire new salvo at labor unions
© Getty Images

Republicans on Monday renewed their push for legislation that they say would help prevent workers from being forced into union membership.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Regulation: Biz groups push to scrap rule on reporting employee pay | GOP skeptical of Trump paid leave plan GOP skeptical of Trump plan for paid parental leave GOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges MORE (R-Utah) on Monday introduced the Employee Rights Act, a bill that would create new requirements for workers to organize a union and make it easier for them to disband it. The bill would also restrict political donations made by unions.

“I’m not anti-union, but I do believe unions could better represent their members,” Hatch told reporters.

The bill is the latest shot fired in the bitter battle between the Obama administration and Republicans over labor policy. Hatch introduced the legislation in 2012, but to little avail. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, he’s hoping for more success this time around.

The Employee Rights Act has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate, and some 30 co-sponsors in the House, where the bill is backed by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

“This doesn’t outlaw unions or make it more difficult to join one,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said. 

The legislation would require a secret ballot election before organizing a union or going on strike.

Employees would also have to vote to keep the union in place once workplace turnover exceeds 50 percent, or else the union would automatically be disbanded.

Hatch said that most employees are thrust into union membership when they join a new company, but only 7 percent of union members have actually voted to organize those unions.

“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.

“I believe workers should have the right to join a union, but they should also have the right to not join a union,” he added.

The labor bill would also slow down the process by which workers can organize a union.

Unions would also be prohibited from making political contributions using members’ dues without their consent under the legislation.

No Democrats are backing the legislation, despite Republicans’ insistence that it is not a partisan bill.

“The American worker is coming in second to the labor union,” Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderRepublicans give Trump's budget the cold shoulder Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding MORE (R-Tenn.) said.