Congress Needs to Pass Employee Rights Act

This op-ed column was originally published at

By Todd Bingham and Billy Hesterman

When it comes to economic growth, Utah is setting the example for the other 49 states. In the most recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report, Utah ranked third for economic performance, was ranked as the top overall performing state in economic growth and was the only state to place in the top 10 for all categories in the study.

It is no mystery that Utah is enjoying such success in economic activity. Utah has benefited from excellent conservative leadership at the state level that has removed economic barriers for business and provided an environment for entrepreneurial success. Utah’s business policies have been the key to a strong economy that has become the envy of other states.

Another key to Utah’s success is its strong and talented workforce. The workforce in Utah provides a quality product that helps businesses in the state perform at high levels. In return, their employers treat the workforce in a fair and responsible manner.

This relationship between Utah’s workers and their employers is so crucial to Utah’s economic success that Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has sponsored the Employee Rights Act, S.1874, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee.

This legislation will accomplish a number of items that are important for business development and provide for fair treatment within the labor force.

For example, the Employee Rights Act will require a federally supervised secret paper ballot election when workers are deciding whether or not to join a union. This will serve all employees well by the fact that in a secret ballot there can be no electoral intimidation. The bill will also require that in order to unionize, a majority of the members have to vote in favor of organizing, not just a majority of those voting.

The Employee Rights Act will also require a re-affirmation of unionization by secret ballot in a unionized workplace when renegotiating their contract if the workforce has turned over by more than 50 percent. With such heavy employee turnover, this provision will allow all workers the opportunity to have their say as to how or if they are organized. If a contract expires and if there has been a majority of employee turnover, a secret ballot vote will also be required to determine if the current employees want to unionize.

Hatch and Lee’s bill will require unions to receive prior approval from their membership to spend their dues money for political parties, candidates or any type of electoral advocacy. This paycheck protection will provide to any American worker a safeguard from having their dues utilized in a manner they do not politically support.

The Employee Rights Act will allow employees the right to opt out of having their personal information shared with a union during an organization campaign. In the past there have been reports that union leadership has gone to the homes of employees/members to encourage their support of a union vote. This provision will ensure the individual a measure of personal and family privacy.

This proposal has the support of the nation’s workforce. In a national poll of union and non-union members, nearly 80 percent of each work group supports each of these provisions found in the act.

Businesses create jobs, hire employees, pay taxes and fuel the economic engine. But they can’t do it without employees. We support this legislation. It will keep Utah’s economic engine roaring as it will allow the workforce to be treated fairly and remove government regulation from the businesses that operate in Utah.

Todd Bingham is president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, and Billy Hesterman is vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.