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What Does the ERA Accomplish?

What Does the Employee Rights Act Accomplish?

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1)  Secret Ballot Elections

Guarantee that a majority of all employees have a right to a secret paper ballot election. Prevents pressuring an employer to deny a secret ballot election.
What it does:

Requires that employees be given the right to have a federally supervised secret paper ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union. Additionally, it redefines majority support to include the entire collective bargaining unit, rather than just a majority of those who vote.

Support:

82% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

85% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

According to data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in 38% of all union recognitions in 2009, the latest year for which data is available, unions bypassed secret ballot elections and instead used card checks to unionize employees. Specifically, the NLRB reports that unions won 794 single-union representation elections. During that period, the NLRB recorded 485 notices of card check union recognition.

Background:

Currently, unions can bypass secret ballot elections by using paid labor organizers to persuade workers to sign “card check” agreements authorizing union representation. Following that, they can pressure companies to “voluntarily” accept a card check recognition of the union. Unions’ pressure tactics run from paid picketers to political fights to brand attacks and much more. Union front groups are common, as are bogus attacks by other community groups on the union’s payroll.

Unions’ overall modus operandi is to blackmail a business by escalating pressure tactics until it capitulates to the card check. The process is unregulated, and anecdotal evidence suggests that signed agreement cards are often obtained through deception, coercion, and intimidation of employees.

By requiring a federally supervised secret ballot election, unions and employers could not agree to deny employees the right to vote in private.

 

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2)  Union Recertification

Require all unionized workplaces to hold a secret ballot referendum periodically to determine whether the employees wish to remain represented by their current union.
What it does:

Requires that every unionized workplace have a guarantee of a periodic supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees want to continue to be represented by an incumbent union. The election will coincide with contract renegotiations, and will only occur once the workforce has turned over by more than 50 percent since the last election.

Support:

85% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

77% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) indicate that only seven percent of currently unionized employees voted for the union in their workplace.

Background:

 Union membership hit its peak in 1954, when nearly 30 percent of the workforce was unionized (both private and public sector). Since then, private sector union membership has seen a precipitous drop to today’s record low of 6.6 percent. Because union decertification is difficult, a current workplace unionized in the 1950s or 1960s is almost assuredly still unionized today.

Once a workplace is unionized it is nearly impossible for employees to decertify a union.

This provision is especially important in light of the NLRB’s proposal to fundamentally shorten the time period for elections so that employees have insufficient time to formulate an informed vote. A periodic vote, scheduled to coincide with the typical contract renewal cycle, is much like the regular elections that public officials have to participate in to have their public support revalidated or repudiated.

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3)  Secret Ballot Strike Vote

Ensure that a majority of all employees in the bargaining unit have the right to a secret ballot vote before union leaders can declare a strike.
What it does:

Requires a majority of union members to approve a strike in a secret ballot election before union leaders can order a strike.

Support:

83% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

90% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

The rules on whether or not unions have to consult their membership before calling a strike vary by each organization’s constitution. There is no federal standard that requires secret ballot majority support from union membership before a strike can be declared.

Background:

Strikes can pose significant hardships for employees as union strike funds usually compensate members for far less than 50 percent of the wages lost during a strike (10-20 percent is most common). In order to collect that fraction of their pay, they are often required to participate in a picket line. The potential loss of pay and hardship suffered warrants uncoerced input from affected employees before any strikes are called.

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4)  Political Protection

Require unions to receive opt-in permission from each member to use his or her union dues for purposes other than collective bargaining (e.g., political support).
What it does:

Requires that labor unions obtain prior approval from employees to spend dues money on behalf of political parties, political candidates, or other political advocacy.

Support:

85% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

83% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

Exit polls from 2012 demonstrate that 43 percent of union households voted for Republican House candidates, yet 91 percent of union political support went to Democratic candidates. There is a disconnect between the unions' political agenda and their members' personal ideology.

Background:

Currently, labor law allows unions to deduct money for supporting political campaigns from an employee’s paycheck without obtaining prior approval. Only by following the often onerous procedure to demand a refund of partial dues or by resigning from a union can employees guarantee that their money will not support candidates or a political party. The process is often overly complicated, completely unregulated, and rife with intimidation. By requiring that union members opt-in rather than having to pursue a refund of dues, employee rights will be better protected.

Some states have passed paycheck protection laws for their public sector state and local employees (who are not covered by federal labor law). The Employee Rights Act’s paycheck provision would institute protection for private sector workers in the United States.

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5)  Employee Privacy Protections

Gives employees the right to opt out of having their personal information shared with a union during an organizing campaign.
What it does:

Gives employees the right to opt out of having their personal information shared with a union during an organizing campaign.

Support:

84% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

82% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

In 1969 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that an employer must turn over employees’ personal contact information within seven days of ordering a union formation election. In some circumstances, employees have reported that labor union organizers have used the information to visit employees at their homes and pressure them to vote for the union.

Background:

There is currently no provision for employees to prevent their personal information from being disclosed to the National Labor Relations Board and the union that seeks to represent them. Offering employees the option to not disclose their private information will allow people who want to be left alone that right, just like the federal “Do Not Call” registry.

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6)  Criminalized Union Threats

Forbid unions from using violence, or threats thereof, in an effort to coerce employees.
What it does:

Forbids unions from threatening or engaging in violent or criminal behavior toward an employee.

Support:

92% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

91% of union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

In the last five years, the NLRB has received 155 complaints of union violence. Although it is not widespread, the use of violence or threats to intimidate employees in the exercise of a federal statute should be criminalized at the federal level.

Background:

This would effectively criminalize many of the more aggressive union tactics that organizers use to unethically pressure employees into union membership against their will.

 

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7)  Decertification Coercion Prevention

Strengthen the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit unions from intimidating or coercing employees from exercising their rights, including their right to decertify the union.
What it does:

Penalizes unions who coerce, discipline, or interfere with employees seeking to decertify a union.

Support:

80% of non-union households were strongly/somewhat supportive.

73% of union-household respondents were strongly/somewhat supportive.

Why:

Data from the NLRB indicates that just one in four decertification attempts are successful. Only half are even put up for a vote.

Background:

Unions often use intimidation and coercion to dissuade employees from signing decertification petitions. Just as there are rules barring employers from firing or disciplining employees who are attempting to organize a workplace, the same should apply to protect union members trying to decertify their union.