Bill Would Protect Workers, Jobs

This op-ed column was originally published at

By Tim Scott

The Palmetto State continues to lead the way in creating good-paying jobs. In 2015, our job creation reached its highest level in 39 years. From Anderson to Charleston, more South Carolinians are working today than at any point in history. Our strong pro-employee, pro-growth environment has led to our economic growth ranking among America’s best.

But not every state has had such good fortune. Throughout much of America, workers are feeling the impacts of a severely sluggish economic recovery. For far too many, things simply are not turning around fast enough.  Numerous surveys show the economy continues to be the most important issue on the minds of Americans. The truth is, our economy is at a critical point. Working together, we must protect our nation’s most valuable asset – the hardworking men and women who strive every day to provide for their families.

With proactive, pro-employee legislation that simplifies the tax code, frees businesses from over-regulation, and updates our U.S. labor laws, we can do that. It has been decades since Congress overhauled America’s labor laws, and to tackle this issue I have joined Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to introduce the Employee Rights Act.

Right now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is running wild – making activist changes to decades-old labor laws that will hurt businesses small and large across the country. Through the Boeing ordeal that began in 2011, when the NLRB tried to destroy jobs in South Carolina, we have experienced firsthand what happens when the board tries to bully a state. I’m proud we fought back and won – and we need to make sure this situation does not arise again.

The Employee Rights Act can protect South Carolina’s workforce from Big Labor’s overreach. It would allow employees to withhold their personal information from a union, and it would eliminate a loophole that protects organizers from prosecution for violence. This commonsense legislation would also require employees to opt-in before their union dues are spent on causes in which they have no interest or in some cases may even oppose. This is a significant issue, as while union members are basically split between Republican and Democrat, more than 90 percent of union contributions go to Democrats.

Our bill would also end unions’ use of card checks to gain control of a workplace. These signature collection drives are not only subject to fraud, they are carried out publicly and leave employees vulnerable to harsh intimidation. Moreover, with the Employee Rights Act, periodic re-certification votes would give current employees a say in whether or not to remain in the union. In some workplaces, those who wanted to create a union no longer work for that employer and current employees are unable to reverse their decision.  We must ensure that every employee has the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Our state’s track record has companies lining up to do business in South Carolina. We have billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs in the pipeline. Our right to work laws are the envy of many, and we must continue working to protect our pro-employee, pro-growth environment.

That is why I support the Employee Rights Act, and why it is critically important for the future our economy.

Senator Scott is the junior senator from South Carolina and serves on the Senate’s labor committee. Before joining the U.S. Congress in 2011, he was a small business owner.