Category Archive: Op-Ed Columns

  1. Leading retailers are pro-worker — why isn’t the PRO Act?

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    This article was originally published in The Hill

    By Evan Armstrong 

    It is unfortunate that labor issues are so controversial in the United States. All too often these issues, particularly in Washington, are framed as pitting workers against employers. Harsh lines are drawn, and elected officials are forced to choose a side or risk being unfairly labeled by their supporters as anti-union or anti-business.

    This division will be on full display when the union-backed H.R. 2474, The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), is brought to the House floor. Their goal is to frame the legislation as pro-worker, falsely implying that job providers are somehow anti-worker. The not-so-subtle “corporations are the enemy” storyline is pervasive, and the talking points for the bill center around driving an unnecessary and harmful wedge between workers and employers.

    Ironically, the bill doesn’t strengthen worker rights at all. On the whole, it is actually harmful to workers because it unequivocally takes many of their rights away. The bill tramples on employee privacy rights by forcing employers to give unions sensitive private information about employees, eliminates an employee’s right to cast a private ballot in union elections, and limits the ability of employees to receive important information by unnecessarily chilling employers’ right to communicate with their workforce on the pros and cons of unionization.

    But most chilling will be the PRO Act’s impact on our economy and society. Over 70 years ago when Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, lawmakers rightly prohibited certain kinds of intimidation involving union “threats,” “coercion,” and “restraints” against neutral employers. The PRO Act, if enacted, will turn back the clock and return us to a potentially far more violent and unrestrained era. The legislation overturns the common-sense protections in Taft-Hartley and allows union organizers to picket, disrupt business operations, and even block shipments into a business, which will have a negative impact on customers and the local and national economy. Most Americans would be appalled at Congress for allowing the kinds of bullying and potentially violent strikes that we often saw in the early 20th Century.  It’s time to move forward not backward.

    This legislation only perpetuates the old and outdated union mantra that for workers to thrive they must unionize and fight against their employer. The inherent problem with this thinking is that it ignores the realities of the modern workforce and the resources employers invest to attract, retain, motivate, and engage talent. Public policy should incentivize these activities, rather than creating conflict by pitting employers and workers against one another.

    Leading retailers are building a 21st Century retail workforce that is diverse, innovative, and skilled. Retailers are looking to shape the rapidly changing landscape to ensure that talent will always be able to choose retail as a path to achieve personal and professional success. The PRO Act overlooks those achievements and ignores the consequences of the bill’s dangerous policies on our economy — an economy that has resulted in record consumer confidence and significant wage growth in the retail industry.

    We urge Members of Congress to reject the PRO Act, a dangerously flawed idea that would take our economy backward. Rolling back the protections for both business and labor that have made our economy the envy of the world should be rejected by all who care about American workers.

    Evan Armstrong is the vice president for workforce at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade association.

  2. Supreme Court Ruling on Janus a Victory for American Workers’ First Amendment Rights

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Todd Rokita

    Unions have opposed right-to-work for years, forcing workers to pay dues regardless of their desire to be members of the unionized organization. This overreach of power has unlawfully stripped many Americans of their First Amendment rights. Indiana, and 27 other states, have recognized that forced unionization as unconstitutional and have passed laws against it.

    We must act to protect all Americans. Americans like Mark Janus, a Child Support Specialist for the state of Illinois, who decided to take action and challenge the status quo. The state of Illinois was forcing him to pay dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to keep his job. Mark Janus filed a lawsuit that he has fought all the way up to the Supreme Court. This week, the Supreme Court ruled for Mark Janus in the case Janus v. AFSCME. Janus challenged a 1977 precedent set in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that gave state and local governments the power to force employees to pay union fees.

    This challenge rings true with what Hoosiers already know, that unions should defend workers’ rights, not threaten their job security. In 2012, Indiana took action to protect government employees from being forced to pay financial dues to a union. Since passing our right-to-work law in Indiana, more Hoosiers are working than ever in our 200 year history and our state’s economy continues to grow.

    Still, many Americans have been mandated into unions by liberal elites who want to spread their message on someone else’s dime.  Unions are strong players in the political field and nearly all of them support liberal candidates and causes. According to the Center for Union Facts, labor unions have sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues to liberal advocacy groups, without prior member approval. That is 99 percent of all union political contributions. These groups include the Democratic Governors Association, Clinton Foundation and Planned Parenthood.

    Forcing Americans to pay for the political activism and propaganda of unions violates the beliefs of many American workers. Many unions take advantage of their unfettered power bestowed on them by the government and advocate for liberal politicians, instead of the hard-working men and women they represent. As they engage in politics with government mandated support, they do so at the expense of worker’s First Amendment rights.

    Such blatant disregard of free speech cannot be tolerated in a nation founded on diversity of thought. That is why I co-sponsored H.R. 785, the National Right to Work Act, which would repeal the provisions in federal law that make “forced dues” the default labor law of the country. This position has been validated by the fruitful results of Indiana’s economic policy and the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v AFSCME.

    Our American workforce is the foundation of a strong and healthy economy, nation and people. We must never give up the fight to protect their freedoms. I will continue to support all American workers and their First Amendment rights.

    Todd Rokita represents Indiana’s 4th District and is a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

  3. Why Should Unions Have Eternal Life?

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Akash Chougule

    When Donald Trump quipped last week that he’d like to be “president for life,” his detractors accused him of unsettling democratic norms. A single electoral mandate can’t last forever, right?

    Yet that’s how labor unions work. Once a union wins a certification election, it hardly ever has to stand for recertification, no matter how much employee turnover takes place. Entire workforces have inherited union representation from predecessors decades earlier. The United Federation of Teachers organized New York City public school teachers in 1961, meaning no current teacher voted for the union. Just 1% of teachers in Florida’s 10 largest districts were on the job when their schools unionized, according to a 2012 Heritage Foundation study.

    That’s about to change. This week, Florida became the third state to enact a law requiring teachers unions to stand for recertification. Specifically, if less than half of the bargaining unit chooses to maintain membership, the certification process starts over. The union must collect signatures from 30% of the unit and then win a secret-ballot election.

    Iowa passed an even broader measure last year. All government unions there must now win recertification before each new contract negotiation, typically every two or three years. Wisconsin’s Act 10 accomplished much the same in 2011 by requiring annual recertification elections. Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma are considering similar measures.

    The problem is equally bad in the private economy. As of 2015, only 6% of unionized private employees had ever voted to organize, according to National Labor Relations Board data analyzed by the Heritage Foundation. The other 94% either voted against the union or, more commonly, inherited it. The United Auto Workers organized Detroit’s Ford, General Motors and Chrysler plants between 1936 and 1941. The UAW has never had to win new employees’ support.

    Congress can solve this problem by passing the Employee Rights Act, which would require private-sector unions to hold a recertification election every three years, or each time the workforce turns over by at least 50% at the end of a collective-bargaining agreement, whichever comes first. It would also require workers to “opt in” before unions can spend their dues on anything other than bargaining.

    This bill would create accountability while shining a light on the union complaint about “free riders” in right-to-work states. The claim is that unions are forced to represent nonmembers who pay no dues. In Florida, as of 2015, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represented 47,653 workers, but only 1,369 dues-paying members, according to state data.

    Recertification elections would make clear whether these workers truly are free riders—if they vote to recertify a union that they refuse to join—or whether they are actually “forced riders” who never wanted the union in the first place. Wisconsin’s experience suggests the latter. After Act 10, more than 100 government unions chose not to seek recertification because they lacked sufficient support. Membership in Afscme fell 54% in just a year.

    Although unions complain incessantly about the free-rider problem, it isn’t clear they want it gone. The Supreme Court has twice ruled that unions are free to represent only dues-paying members. Yet most insist on negotiating as the exclusive representative of all employees. This increases their bargaining power, while providing a nice talking point against right-to-work laws.

    But last month an Illinois union sued Gov. Bruce Rauner, seeking to undo its “duty of fair representation” under state law to speak for all workers. Such a solution could please both sides, since it would give state employees like Mark Janus, whose case challenging forced unionism is now before the Supreme Court, a way to cut ties completely.

    Since 2012, six states have passed right-to-work laws—more than in the previous 50 years. The Janus case could extend this protection to all public employees nationwide. But recertification laws are still needed if today’s workers are to have the same right to vote on unionization that their predecessors had decades ago.

    Akash Chougule is director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.

  4. Will Big Labor Dare to Listen to What its Members Want?

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Akash Chougule

    The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in America, made headlines this week when it broke from past protocol and declined to invite any federal lawmakers to its quadrennial convention.

    The decision comes as unions seek to display more political independence, following an election in which 43 percent of union households voted Republican for president, despite 88 percent of direct union political spending going to support Democrats.

    As a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal, “Today’s political environment and the needs of our members demand a departure from business as usual.”

    Clearly, labor leaders have recognized the massive disconnect with their membership, but it remains to be seen if they’ll actually create more responsive unions.

    The proposals contained in the Employee Rights Act, reintroduced in Congress this year by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would be a good first step toward more democratic unions.

    The bill would require unions to: stand for periodic recertification elections to determine if workers wish to remain represented by that union; hold certification and recertification referendums by secret ballot instead of open “card-check” votes; and receive written permission from workers before spending their dues on anything other than collective bargaining, such as supporting organizations that engage in political advocacy.

    According to 2015 polling by Opinion Research Corp., each of these provisions enjoys at least 71 percent support from union households. This year, ORC found similarly overwhelming support specifically among union households in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio — key industrial states that union-backed Hillary Clinton lost last year.

    Nationwide, just 6 percent of union members have ever voted for the union that represents them, according to a 2016 Heritage Foundation report. The rest either voted against the union or, more commonly, inherited a union that was voted on years or even decades ago.

    Recertification elections would allow workers to vote whether they wish to remain represented by that union, giving many workers a voice for the first time in their careers.

    Secret-ballot elections would free workers from the harassment and intimidation that comes with card-check elections, in which workers must vote in front of a union organizer. Card-check is the preferred method of labor leaders and their political allies because it results in higher rates of unionization, but it deprives workers of a basic protection that all Americans are guaranteed when they vote for their own elected representatives.

    Finally, a report this month from the Center for Union Facts revealed that unions sent nearly $765 million in workers’ dues from 2012 through 2016 to left-wing organizations, from Planned Parenthood to the Democratic Governors Association.

    Recertification elections, secret ballots and paycheck protection would require unions to be more responsive and ensure workers aren’t forced to support causes they oppose.

    Take, for example, Charlene Carter, who last month sued her ex-employer and union officials, alleging she’d been fired for criticizing her union and voicing pro-life views. Carter objected to her dues being used to send union leaders to the Washington, DC, “Women’s March,” which supported several causes she opposes.

    Had the union’s participation in the Women’s March required her permission, this problem could’ve been avoided. Instead, Carter must now resort to suing the very organization that was supposed to represent her.

    This summer, the president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO said of his union’s members, “we were speaking too much at them, rather than having conversations with them.” Now the AFL-CIO has a chance to show workers they’re serious about giving them a voice. The Employee Rights Act would do that — and will test whether President Richard Trumka and other labor leaders are willing to give up their coercive status quo to save their unions.

    Akash Chougule is director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.

  5. Texas Lawmakers Must Support the Employee Rights Act

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    Rick Berman, CUF Executive Director

    The 2018 election cycle is already underway. By next November, big bucks will be spent on dozens of House and Senate campaigns around the country. Experts estimate more than $3 billion will be spent on political advertisements.

    If history is any indication, labor unions will be intimately involved. From 2012 to 2016, America’s unions sent nearly $765 million in member dues to the Democratic Party and liberal special interest groups. This is in addition to funds spent directly on candidate support. The Center for Union Facts estimates that, since 2010, unions have contributed more than $1 billion to liberal groups without prior approval from their members.

    The recipients range from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to the Clinton Foundation and Planned Parenthood. The DGA received nearly $11 million. Catalist, the Democratic Party’s go-to data firm, made off with roughly $9.5 million. Working America, the AFL-CIO’s grassroots political machine, received a whopping $52 million in the last five years alone. One of the group’s goals is to establish government-paid healthcare for everyone.

    Despite the lopsided political preferences of union officials, 40 percent of union household members vote Republican in any given election cycle. In 2016, 43 percent of union household voters supported President Donald Trump. Union leadership continues to disregard them and bankroll the anti-Trump resistance.

    This leaves many employees without a voice that matches their dues money. While opt-in permission is already a requirement for union campaign contributions, the same is not true for thinly veiled political advocacy — often disguised as “representational activities” — that is largely unrepresentative of employees’ interests. When did the multimillion-dollar Clinton Foundation become a charity entitled to the hijacked dues of union members?

    Union officials can spend member dues on political advocacy without ever receiving affirmative consent from their dues-paying members — often on political causes many members oppose. And they do so with hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The solution to this injustice is the Employee Rights Act (ERA). Reintroduced in the 115th Congress, the ERA would require union officials to obtain permission from members before spending dues money on political advocacy. This would prevent union elites from turning their backs on members and playing politics against employees’ own interests.

    The most comprehensive update to American labor law since the 1940s, the ERA contains eight common-sense reforms, including a guaranteed secret ballot in union elections. All of the bill’s pro-employee provisions are designed to protect worker voice and make currently undemocratic union workplaces democratic.

    The ERA’s key provisions are so common-sense that 80 percent of union household members — across the political aisle — support them. More than 50 free-market organizations have endorsed the legislation, claiming it would “allow American workers an unencumbered opportunity to make their voice heard.”

    Fortunately, most of Texas’ congressional delegation is on board as well. From House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady on down, Texans in Washington are some of the ERA’s most dedicated champions. Unfortunately, Reps. Jodey Arrington, Joe Barton, Kay Granger and Will Hurd have yet to show whether they support this pro-employee labor reform.

    The ERA is the only bill in Congress with 80 percent bipartisan support. It’s an idea whose time has come.

  6. Conservatives Should Make Labor Law Reform a Priority

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Akash Chougule

    It is no secret that conservatives are hungry for legislative victories after last year’s sweeping electoral victories, and few issues present a better opportunity than labor reform.

    Last year, the Employee Rights Act, sponsored by then-Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Sen. Orrin Hatch,R-Utah, received co-sponsorship from a majority of Republicans in both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, the bill failed to receive a vote in either chamber.

    Hatch introduced a new version in the Senate late last week, following the introduction of Rep. Phil Roe’s, R-Tenn., new House bill earlier this year.

    The Employee Rights Act would be the first major overhaul of federal labor law in 70 years. It would restore power to individual workers, many of whom voted Republican for the first time ever last year.

    Today, just 6 percent of unionized workers in the United States have ever actually voted for the union that represents them. The other 94 percent either voted against the union or, more commonly, simply inherited a union that was voted in years ago and have never had the opportunity to make their voice heard.

    For example, the United Auto Workers unionized the Detroit auto plants in the 1940s, and every employee since has been forced to accept their representation without a vote, like it or not.

    The bill would address this problem by requiring unions to stand for a recertification election whenever a bargaining unit’s workforce turned over by at least 50 percent at the end of a contract.

    Importantly, the legislation would require union elections to be conducted by secret ballot, ensuring workers the same privacy that all Americans are guaranteed when they vote for their representatives in Congress.

    Secret ballots prevent the well-documented harassment and intimidation that comes with so-called “card check” voting, which requires workers to declare their opinion in front of a union organizer.

    Moreover, unions would need to receive majority support from the entire bargaining unit, rather than just a majority of those who vote in what are often low-turnout elections.

    The measure would also give workers greater say in their union’s political agenda, an increasingly important reform as unions increase their massive political footprint with each successive election cycle.

    Over the last 10 years, in addition to direct PAC spending, unions have sent roughly a billion dollars in workers’ dues money meant for collective bargaining representation to left-wing advocacy groups. But last year, 43 percent of union households voted Republican in the presidential election.

    Under the legislation, unions would be required to receive “opt-in” permission to spend members’ dues on politics, protecting workers from being forced to support causes they don’t believe in.

    Finally, the bill also would protect against threats and violence by closing loopholes that the Supreme Court has ruled exempt unions from laws barring such behavior. These exceptions have allowed unions to get away with physical threats, slashing tires, stalking homes, and worse.

    Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor signed a bill abolishing this exemption for government unions in the Keystone State, and now Congress can do the same nationwide.

    Union leaders deride the bill as “anti-union,” but polls show that every provision of the Employee Rights Act enjoys overwhelming support, not only with the general public but also within union households.

    And in the “polls” that really count, over the last seven years voters have overwhelmingly re-elected state lawmakers and governors who enacted bold labor reforms.

    The Employee Rights Act offers a rare opportunity to unite conservatives, score a win for workers, and expand freedom. Congress should not let such an opportunity slip away.

    Akash Chougule is director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.

  7. Union Bosses Have Too Much Control. It’s Time to Protect the Rights of American Workers.

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Rep. Phil Roe

    For the past eight years, union bosses have held the upper hand over East Tennessee workers, as the previous administration tried to stack the deck in favor of unionization.

    The National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor combined to pursue an agenda that put union bosses and special interests ahead of the rights of individual workers and job creation.

    If there was any doubt the Department of Labor was pushing a partisan agenda, just look at former Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s new job: head of the Democrat Party.

    It is time to restore employee rights and create a pro-growth, pro-employee environment within the workplace, and I am pleased to already see the new administration working aggressively to create jobs by undoing job-killing regulations.

    I’ve said time and time again that promoting fair and free labor policies in the workplace have nothing to do with whether or not you are pro- or anti-union, and everything to do with the rights to which every American worker is entitled.

    Still, current law does not accurately reflect the 21st century we live in today. In fact, these laws have remained largely unchanged since the National Labor Relations Act was passed 70 years ago.

    A striking statistic finds that 94 percent of workers represented by a union today never voted for that union to represent them. Today, labor unions’ membership is down to about 11 percent of the workforce as more and more employees have opted for a free-market economy.

    For this reason I introduced the Employee Rights Act.

    The Employee Rights Act is a comprehensive labor law update that will allow places of employment to serve the interest of their employees—not unions or other special interests.

    The Employee Rights Act would ensure the right to a secret ballot is always protected.

    It would also require permission from union members for the use of their dues for any purpose other than collective bargaining, ensuring union members’ dues cannot be used for political purposes without members’ knowledge or permission.

    The bill requires periodic recertification of union elections so every employee has a chance to weigh in on whether or not they wish to be represented by a union.

    Finally, the Employee Rights Act requires a majority vote of all employees—not just those present—to decide whether to unionize or strike.

    These are commonsense protections every worker deserves.

    The right to a secret ballot is one of the most fundamental protections of American democracy. It’s how we elect our presidents, our representatives, and our local leaders.

    A secret ballot protects employees from intimidation during union elections—from both sides. Further, requiring employees to recertify their union regularly will keep union leaders attentive to the needs of workers.

    This commonsense measure will help protect employee privacy and create safeguards for the American worker, and I look forward to working with the Trump administration to ensure worker rights are protected.

    Rep. Phil Roe represents Tennessee’s 1st congressional district and serves on the House Education and Workforce Committee. He is also chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

  8. Another Labor Day Without Labor Reform

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    Rick Berman, CUF Executive Director

    This Labor Day, millions of Americans will celebrate their day off with backyard barbecues and a family trip to the beach. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the holiday’s deeper meaning. Labor Day celebrates employees’ “freedom of association,” our right to choose the workplace best suited to us.

    Unfortunately, workplace freedom is not a reality in one part of the country: Union America. Less than 10 percent of union members ever voted for the union currently “representing” them. The few who did were never guaranteed a secret ballot election. Moreover, union members are not guaranteed recertification elections once a union is in power, leaving them with little opportunity to re-vote on union representation — even when the workforce turns over and the original voters are gone.

    The problem stems from outdated labor laws. American labor law has not been substantially updated since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which outlined unfair labor practices to protect employers and employees from union harassment. Despite the best of intentions, 70 years later, labor unions continue to exploit the status quo to maintain their stranglehold on the workplace.

    This has a profound effect on American politics. The Center for Union Facts estimates that, in the last decade, union leadership has sent more than $1 billion collected without prior permission from member dues to the Democratic Party and liberal special interests — 99 percent of Big Labor’s political advocacy budget. The recipients range from the notorious Clinton Foundation to Planned Parenthood.

    In 2016, union advocacy took a decidedly anti-Trump turn. The AFL-CIO, National Education Association, and other unions sent more than $814,000 to the left-wing Center for American Progress without member approval. The group promotes its website to “resist (President) Trump’s harmful agenda.” David Brock’s American Bridge 21st Century received $485,000 in hijacked member dues to “hold Republicans accountable.”

    When 40 percent of union household members vote Republican, you’re looking at a problem best described as immoral. In 2016, 43 percent of union household voters supported President Trump. Yet union leadership continues to bankroll the anti-Trump agenda on the worker’s dime.

    While union members must affirmatively agree to their monthly dues being used for candidate campaign contributions, the same is not true of financial support to political advocacy groups. By classifying these political expenditures as “representational activities,” union officials can use member dues to finance a political agenda without employees even knowing about it. Union members are effectively silenced by union leadership more interested in politics than worker empowerment.

    Now you know why union elites are wildly unpopular. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, only 28 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in organized labor. Even fewer current and former union members (25 percent) are supportive of union leadership.

    Labor reform is the best way to help employees. The Employee Rights Act (ERA) would update American labor law to protect employees from union overreach. The ERA — presently co-sponsored by more than 80 members of Congress — would guarantee secret ballot union elections and scheduled recertification votes after substantial workforce turnover. It would also prevent union officials from spending member dues on political advocacy without first obtaining employee permission.

    As you might expect, labor reform polls exceptionally well. National and regional polls show 80 percent of union household members support the ERA’s key provisions. Congress should act on its popular mandate and pass the Employee Rights Act. Another Labor Day without labor reform is another missed opportunity to protect working Americans.

  9. Employee Freedom Week Honors Labor Reform

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    Luka Ladan, CUF Communications Director

    Monday marks the beginning of National Employee Freedom Week, an annual celebration of employee rights—and the enduring need to fight for them. Unfortunately, with the celebration comes a harsh reminder of union leadership’s continued stranglehold on the workplace. Many of today’s labor unions are holdovers from generations past, voted into power by a previous workforce while current employees have little say on the matter. Less than 10 percent of union members ever voted for the union currently “representing” them.

    Those who did were not guaranteed the right to a secret ballot election. Union officials can circumvent a private vote by forcing employees to sign public authorization cards, which supposedly reveal worker sentiment yet leave employees vulnerable to well-documented union intimidation.

    Outdated labor laws tilt the playing field to union elites, many of whom have grown unresponsive to their membership’s needs because—unlike a member of Congress—they rarely face a re-vote.

    Fortunately, many U.S. states have addressed the union stranglehold with right-to-work laws, which prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. Next week, Missouri’s right-to-work law goes into effect, making the Show-Me State the 28th state to enact such reforms. In these 28 states, employees are not compelled to fork over a piece of their monthly paycheck to a union, retaining the right to choose the workplace most suited to their needs.

    Union elites like James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, predictably see right-to-work as a threat to their long-uncontested control of employee paychecks. Hoffa argues that employee freedom somehow leads to “lower wages and fewer rights on the job.” Meanwhile, union-funded liberal think tanks such as the Economic Policy Institute churn out flawed reports suggesting that right-to-work “lower[s] wages for union and nonunion workers.”

    Insinuations like these fail to account for differences in living costs across the country. If you take into account lower living costs in right-to-work states—many of which are in the South—there is little to no drop-off in real wages. According to a 2015 Heritage Foundation study, “private-sector workers in right-to-work states enjoy real wages equivalent to those in non-right-to-work states,” with “no negative impact on private-sector wages.”

    Right-to-work laws are best analyzed, of course, by asking union members themselves. And union members are firm believers in employee freedom. According to a newly released study from a survey research team affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, union members in right-to-work states report just as much workplace satisfaction as their counterparts in forced-union states, if not more.

    In states like Georgia, Indiana, and Utah, union membership actually increased after right-to-work legislation was passed. If anything, right-to-work laws increase union approval ratings, so how do they attack collective bargaining?

    In both right-to-work and forced-union states, the overwhelming majority of union members expressed support for recertification elections, which allow employees to regularly vote on their union representation. Despite Hoffa’s best wishes, employees support even more workplace freedom, not less.

    Even some union advocates acknowledge the broad-based support for right-to-work laws. Ben Johnson, a former union official in Vermont, calls right-to-work “a great example of naming something.” In his words: “Pretty often you cannot even explain right-to-work to union members without them thinking it sounds like a pretty good idea.”

    To extend this “pretty good idea” to workplaces nationwide, Congress should pass the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would guarantee secret ballot union elections and periodic recertification votes, allowing employees to regularly reassess their union representation. The most comprehensive update to American labor law since the 1940s, the ERA defends employee freedom at a federal level.

    On this National Employee Freedom Week, we should celebrate how far the American workplace has come—and expand labor reform nationwide.

  10. Workers Should Direct Union Fees

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    This op-ed column was originally published at

    By Akash Chougule

    Five years ago, a Nevada think tank decided to test a theory. It launched a campaign to let teachers in Clark County know that they could legally opt-out of their union simply by giving written notice during a two-week period in July.

    As things turned out, the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s theory was valid: Lots of teachers wanted to get out of the Clark County Education Association, but didn’t know how. Once they found out, more than 800 decided they didn’t want to be a part of the union.

    It’s time to make sure all unionized employees know their rights and enjoy the protections the Constitution guarantees.

    The Employee Rights Act, currently making its way through Congress, would accomplish this by requiring unions to get permission from workers to spend their dues on anything other than collective bargaining.

    Workers must now endure a lengthy and cumbersome process to opt out of having their money used to support political causes they may not support. Unions spent more than $500 million in workers’ dues over the last four years to back left-wing advocacy that many in their membership do not support. Money that should have been used to support collective bargaining instead went to advance social-issue crusades and anti-fossil-fuel causes.

    The bill would also require unions — rather than just union officials — to stand for re-election when the workforce has turned over by 50 percent at the end of a collective-bargaining agreement. And, to be certified or recertified, a union would have to win a majority of all workers in the bargaining unit, not just a majority of those who vote in what is often a low-turnout election.

    That is important because the vast majority union workers today — 94 percent — have never cast a vote in favor of the union that represents them. They may have voted to approve a specific contract negotiated by the union, but not on the union itself. Many voted against certification when they had the chance. But most simply never had a chance because the union was voted in years or decades earlier and has never been held accountable to the workers they currently represent.

    The Employee Rights Act would also require a secret ballot for those recertification votes, as well as for original certification elections and for strike votes. When we go into the voting booth to elect our local, state and federal officials, we enjoy the privacy of a secret ballot. Union workers deserve no less when choosing their workplace representation.

    Progress is being made on worker freedom at the state level — six states in six years have enacted right-to-work laws, more than had enacted such laws in the previous half century. National Employee Freedom Week, which grew out of the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s experiment five years ago, celebrates that progress. But a federal guarantee is the best way to ensure the rights of all workers — in right-to-work as well as forced-union states — are protected.

    It has been 70 years since the last major rewrite of federal labor law. More than a few things have changed in the American economy since then. We need to modernize the way union elections are conducted, and give workers the freedom they need to prosper in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. The Employee Rights Act would go a long way toward achieving that goal.

    Akash Chougule is director of policy at Americans for Prosperity.