North Carolina Must Fight Back Against Unions

This op-ed column was  originally published at

By Renee Ellmers

North Carolina has a storied history, steeped in great achievement and economic prosperity and this can be attributed to the hard work and entrepreneurship of many individuals who have both innovated during their time and inspired others after them.

From the Wright Brothers to the entrepreneurship and innovation of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina has always been a state of hardworkers who value the independence of creativity and the free flow of ideas.

Since March of 1947 North Carolina has proudly been a right-to-work state, protecting the rights of individuals who work independently of organized labor. In fact, we are the least unionized state in the nation — outlawing coercion of individuals into union membership and limiting organized labor, as it stunts an economy’s ability to grow and an individual’s ability to work independently.

The type of stability created by these policies has contributed to an outstanding work environment here at home. Since Republicans took office in our state, North Carolina has consistently been ranked as one of the top five states for business. However, we must not stop improving the business climate for owners, entrepreneurs and employees.

As unions continue to push for further influence, we are at risk for becoming less attractive to job creators. Unions will do anything to force their way in and take advantage of our state’s workers. We must take action.

In an effort to keep unions out of our great state, I have co-sponsored the Employee Rights Act (ERA) in Congress. This legislation will defend North Carolinians and all Americans from being subjected to pressure or dictates issued from labor unions.

This bill would make important changes to outdated federal laws that enable unions. For example, due to legal precedent set by U.S. vs. Enmons, union organizers are protected currently from prosecution for violent behavior which obstructs commerce so long as the violence is used for “legitimate objectives.” I reject the idea that there can ever be a “legitimate” reason to threaten or harm a worker in North Carolina.

The absolute bravado and power upon which these union leaders stake claim is an infringement upon the very liberties which our Constitution enumerates.

Additionally, I believe employees should have the right to a secret-ballot vote to decide whether they even want a union in their workplace. Unionization should require support from a full majority of employees within a specific workplace; it should not be forced or coerced upon workers against their will.

It is wrong that some workplaces are becoming unionized based on a collection of signed cards — which can easily be falsified — with only a minority of employees in favor. The ERA would end these tyrannical practices.

Union supporters argue that unions represent their members with their ability to collectively bargain on behalf of them. However, are political donations which are chosen by union leaders truly a representation of the political opinions of its union members? Is this truly collective bargaining?

The ERA will amend this problem by requiring that union members give written consent in order for their dues to be spent on political donations. By enacting this, individuals in unions will not be forced to indirectly fund political candidates or organizations that do not represent their values.

To guarantee employees a voice in the workplace and to preserve North Carolina’s economic future, we must elect a president who is willing to fight for the ERA. Many conservative candidates have vowed to help employees on this issue, and those who have not should be called to task.

Although North Carolina is a right-to-work state, this issue must be addressed in Congress so that we eliminate the risk of unions over-exerting their influence. In the next election cycle let us stand up to union leaders and their liberal posse which enables their continued overreaching influence. Let us keep the right to work in the hands of those who know best — the hardworking men and women of North Carolina.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, represents North Carolina’s Second Congressional District.