Bill Would Give Voices Back to Employees

This op-ed column was originally published at

By Diane Black

Many hard-working Americans across Tennessee and the nation are suffering injustices on the job. Ironically, the perpetrators are the same organizations established to promote their interests — labor unions.

What’s really troubling is that this country has seen unions morph from workers’ champions into influence brokers whose high-living bosses care little about the rank and file, the people they are supposed to represent.

At fault are outdated labor statutes that free union leaders from accountability. Even violence by union organizers has been given a blind eye since 1935.

Tennesseans need look no further than the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga to see how some unions skirt our right-to-work laws, which we presciently enacted back in 1940.

There is little reason to believe that labor executives are any less deceptive in their handling of certification votes, the declaration of a strike or the use of members’ dues. There is too much power and money at stake.

That is why the Employee Rights Act, introduced in the House of Representatives by my Republican colleague Tom Price of Georgia, is essential.

After watching organized labor devolve over 70 years, this legislation would finally give employees back their voices. It would start by criminalizing union threats and violence.

The changes couldn’t come soon enough.

Most labor organizations in the U.S. were certified so long ago that less than 10 percent of today’s unionized employees voted for them. The original supporters retired, but the current workforce is still beholden to an organization their predecessors chose.

This situation must be rectified, and the Employee Rights Act would do it.

The legislation would require a union recertification vote whenever half of a workforce turns over. The measure would empower employees to kick out unions that are doing more to ensure their executives remain in power than to advance objectives members care about.

The Employee Rights Act would also guarantee a secret ballot vote when employees are deciding whether to unionize. This would bring the end to “card checks” — public petitions that organizers have paired with fraud and intimidation to win union certification against employees’ wishes.

So common sense are the eight provisions of the Employee Rights Act that they receive overwhelming, bipartisan support from unionized workers themselves. Despite this fact, not a single Democrat in the House supports the bill.

Should Hillary Clinton win in 2016, the Employee Rights Act will be dead on arrival at her desk, never to be signed into law.

My Democratic colleagues who back unions’ continued dominance over employees are betraying their constituents — not for 30 silver coins, but for $30 million in Clinton campaign contributions and counting.

The Employee Rights Act would help here as well. It would bring political giving into line with employees’ beliefs by requiring workers to opt in before a union can use their dues for politics. The 40 percent of unionized employees who vote Republican will surely welcome the chance to stop funding leftist candidates and causes.

No wonder liberals are worried.

It is long past time Congress prioritized the interests of individual American workers over the interests of the bigwig bosses at the powerful labor unions in Washington, D.C. As a co-sponsor of the Employee Rights Act, I am proud to add my voice to the chorus demanding that unions play fair and respect the rights of every worker — not just those who buy into their agenda.

Congresswoman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s sixth congressional district.