Heritage Action Pushes Lawmakers on Employee Rights Act

This article was originally published at WashingtonExaminer.com

By Sean Higgins

Heritage Action, the activist branch of the nonprofit conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, is pushing lawmakers to take up the Employee Rights Act, a major reform bill that would give more rights to workers who dissent from organized labor.

The activist group has said it will make co-sponsoring the legislation a “key vote” that it will use as part of its annual evaluation of how conservative lawmakers are.

“The Employee Rights Act would solve problems workers face today—including problems enshrined in current labor law. The bill would help restore a balance of power in the workplace from unions to workers,” the organization said in post Wednesday. “Heritage Action…will include co-sponsorship of this legislation in our scorecard.”

The scorecard is important because it is used by lawmakers, activists and the media as a yardstick of how faithful lawmakers are to conservative ideology.

The Senate version of the Employee Rights Act is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, while Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., introduced its House counterpart, both in July. They have 21 and 51 co-sponsors, respectively, all Republicans. Neither piece of legislation has received a vote or committee hearing since they were introduced.

Heritage Action’s move is intended to get lawmakers to give the legislation a second look and to build pressure on the GOP leadership to take it up.

The legislation would prohibit a union from using a worker’s membership dues for any purpose other than collective bargaining without getting that worker’s prior written consent. It makes use of threats or force against a worker a federal crime. The bill also includes several reforms to workplace election rules, such as requiring all elections have secret ballots and that a union win a majority of all workers, not just a majority of those who voted.

It also would reverse a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor laws, that shortened the time from when a union election is held to as little as 11 days from the initial announcement. Republicans have called the decision the “ambush election rule,” saying it was intended to ensure that the vote happens before workers hear all the pro and cons of joining a union.