Conservatives push 'secret ballots' bill

A conservative advocacy group is pressing congressional Republicans to co-sponsor a measure that would ensure workers use secret ballots when deciding whether to form a union.

Heritage Action on Friday announced that it will consider co-sponsorship of the Employee Rights Act in its scorecard, effectively telling conservative Republicans to sign on to the bill limiting union leaders’ power.  

Scorecards from organizations like Heritage Action are used to track legislative votes and pressure members to support particular issues.

The Employee Rights Act was introduced on Thursday by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). It would institute new rules for workers looking to form or run a union. 

The bill would require that votes to form unions and go on strike are done via secret ballot, which conservatives say is necessary to prevent workers from feeling pressured. Under the bill, a majority of all would-be union members, not just those who cast ballots, would be required in order to form a union.

Currently, workers can decide whether they want to join a union through two ways. They can hold an election run by the National Labor Relations Board or ask a workplace to voluntarily recognize grant union request signed by a majority of its workers. Labor groups say that forcing workers to use a secret ballot would give companies too much control over their employees' decision. 

The legislation would also require regular votes to continue the union and let workers decide how to spend their union’s money.

“Where the interests of unions come in conflict with the interests of workers, unions often make decisions that benefit them rather than employees,” Heritage Action said in its announcement that it would score co-sponsorship of the bill.

“Workers should have a say in decisions that put their jobs at risk.”