Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Employee Freedom Wins in 2016

shutterstock_130449386Election Day proved to be a big win for employees in several states, as ballot initiatives reined in the power of union bosses.

In Alabama, the adoption of Amendment 8 enshrined the state’s right-to-work law in the Constitution, meaning that Alabama employees now have a constitutional right to choose the workplace that suits them—whether it’s union or not. Before right-to-work legislation was passed, union membership could be a condition for employment, but the state constitution now guarantees that no employee can be denied a job because they are or aren’t a member of a labor union while making right-to-work more difficult to overturn in the future. Likewise, the rejection of South Dakota’s Ballot Measure 23—which would have effectively overturned the state’s right-to-work law—protects employees from compulsory union dues. If it had passed, the measure would have given labor unions the right to force all employees at unionized workplaces to pay labor organizers a fee—even if they did not personally support the union. (Unsurprisingly, almost 80 percent of South Dakota’s voters said nay to forced union dues.)

Even in Virginia, where union activists defeated a right-to-work amendment to the state constitution, employee freedom was upheld (albeit not permanently). The best that Big Labor could do was preserve the status quo.

Now the onus is on Congress to pass the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would update federal labor law to protect employees nationwide. A package of eight pro-employee reforms, the ERA would guarantee secret ballot union elections and require labor officials to obtain opt-in permission before spending dues dollars on politics. Among other provisions, the bill would also mandate periodic recertification votes when a workplace has experienced substantial turnover, allowing employees to put union bosses up for a re-vote.

Less than 10 percent of American employees ever voted for the union currently “representing” them. The ERA democratizes the workplace and extends labor reform to all 50 states.

Categories: Employee Rights ActRight-to-Work