Employee Rights Act Will Prevent Overreach by Unions

This op-ed column was originally published at RGJ.com

By Adam Kahn 

Nevada is in the midst of an exciting and well-documented renaissance. Companies like Tesla, Switch and Apple are making serious commitments to our state’s economic future, creating tens of thousands of jobs and attracting skilled professionals from all over the country. These employees are the very backbone of our state’s economic recovery and bright potential. It’s imperative, then, that we develop policies that not only foster economic development, but support, protect and empower employees and their right to decide what is best for themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, today’s labor laws treat employees as if they are all the same. These laws, developed in the 1930s, assume that workers’ interests and union goals are inherently aligned, significantly limiting a worker’s ability to control their own situation.

It is critical that our employees retain the right to work union-free, to vote by secret ballot, to have their vote count, to protect their private information from union organizers, and to limit where their hard-earned money goes, once a union takes it.

In fact, union members all over the country have begun speaking out about the deep mismatch that can exist between their objectives and the motivations of union executives – which too often boil down to power and dues.

Today, under current labor laws, some workers are being exploited by the very organizations claiming to represent them and there is little they or their employers can do about it. It’s concerning that unions are so untouchable when companies are held to a much higher standard with regard to workers’ rights.

To override the erosion of individual rights, the Employee Rights Act, recently introduced in Congress, provides protections for employees with respect to their right to select or refuse to agree to intervention by a union. This bill is an appropriate step to ensuring that employees in all states, and in all industries, have a greater voice if and when a union vote takes place.

The Employee Rights Act requires, among other things, that employees keep the right to have a fair secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to be unionized. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the act makes sure the voice of every employee counts, not just those who show up to vote at the union election.

The Employee Rights Act protects an individual’s right to privacy when a union wants to use the employee’s personal information, such as where he lives or what her phone number is, to solicit the employee. The act also prevents the union from spending the employee’s hard-earned money on politics, political parties, and political candidates of the union’s choice.

It’s commendable that some of our state’s congressional leaders have already signed on in support of this bill and it’s imperative that the rest of the country follow suit. I strongly encourage all Nevadans to demand policy that ensures the individual rights of our employees, like this act, be a necessary part of the political debate as we move forward.

Adam Kahn is the chairman of the Washoe County GOP.