Unions exist to regulate fair labor practices. But what happens when the union leadership is left unchecked? Over the past decade, unionized employees have reported coercive tactics and unfair voting regulations initiated by the union leadership. Currently, there are few laws protecting the rights of unionized employees.
America has not addressed these challenges in over 50 years. The Employee Rights Act seeks to update the existing laws and create new structures to better support and protect the employees of both non-union and unionized groups.
What is The Employee Rights Act (ERA)?
The ERA (S.1874) is a current bill addressed to Congress to ameliorate the various challenges facing the unionized workforce in America. The bill seeks to restore power to employees and to eliminate any unfair advantages union leadership utilizes to instill trust and favor within party members.
The bill consists of eight core provisions and was delivered to Congress in 2016. The eight steps outlined below would provide comprehensive support to America’s unionized employees.
This provision would guarantee that all employees have the right to a secret ballot election. A closed election is critical for employees to vote independently from the opinions of their union leadership. In the past, unions have blackmailed employees to join and have bypassed a fair election. Employees should have the right to join, or opt-out of joining, and should face no pressure either way.
Only a small fraction of union members vote to keep their union certified. To update this practice, the EPA would institute regular secret ballot elections. Much like national political elections, the vote would help bring additional power to the work.
3. Political Protection
There is a large disconnect in the political ideology between the union leadership and its individual members. Currently, members’ dues are used to promote the leadership’s party of choice and are deducted from an employee’s paycheck. While it’s possible for an employee to receive a refund, the process is complicated and often rife with intimidating practices. To update this situation, the ERA would grant an opt-in permission structure. This would allow employees to opt-in to support the dues for a political agenda.
4. Majority Vote of All Employees
This provision would change an election or certification “win bar” from the majority percentage to the majority of all affected employees. In the past, elections have been won by a small number of unionized employees. Now, an election could only be won with the majority of all employee votes.
5. Employee Privacy Protections
Today, there is no provision that protects an employee’s personal information from the National Labor Relations Board. By instituting an opt-out provision, employees can choose to release or decline to release their information to the NLRB when a union formation election is present. In the past, employees have been visited at home by members of the NLRB who’ve pressured them to unionize.
6. Decertification Coercion Prevention
This provision seeks to penalize unions who use unfair coercive tactics to prevent employees from voting to decertify the union.
7. Secret Ballot Strike Vote
This provision would give more power to the unionized employees to vote for or against a strike. Often, employees face tremendous hardships, including a pay cut, during the event. Currently, there is no federal standard that requires a majority of employee votes to issue a strike.
8. Criminalized Union Threats
This provision would forbid union leadership from using violence, threats, or intimidation against their employees.
The Employee Rights Act is a tremendous goal to protect employees from antiquated practices. It’s currently co-sponsored by 140 members of the 114 Congress and has received an overwhelming amount of support from the American public. Nearly 80% of Americans have responded favorably to the act.
Stephen Koppekin of Koppekin Consulting Inc. supports the ERA and the fair practices the act would grant employees. The current updates to the bill are published regularly on its website, along with the bill in its entirety.