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GOP senators introduce bill to undo NLRB ‘ambush’ election rule, card-check

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the U.S. Senate’s senior Republican, and a member and former Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is lead sponsor of the latest piece of legislation aimed at undoing the NLRB’s revised representation election procedures. By negating the Obama-era rule changes—which sharply curtailed the time frame for conducting union election campaigns—the legislation aims to “foster[ ] information sharing between workers and employers that is necessary for employees to weigh the pros and cons of unionization,” according to the bill’s sponsors.

The Employee Rights Act (S. 1774), introduced in the Senate on September 7, would implement other significant changes to federal labor law as well. Specifically, the measure would:

  • require unions to get “opt in” approval before union dues can be used for purposes other than collective bargaining (i.e., politicking);
  • eliminate card-check recognition, and require secret ballots for votes on whether to unionize or to strike;
  • give employees the right to opt out of having personal information shared with a union during an organizing campaign; and
  • require a union recertification vote after significant workforce turnover, to ensure that unions still have majority support.

“This comprehensive workers’ rights bill does not include a single provision that empowers employers at the expense of unions. The only parties whose position will be improved by this legislation are employees,” Hatch said. “The Employee Rights Act is not a Democrat or Republican issue—it is simply a commonsense solution to champion workers’ rights and strengthen our economy.”

Notably, a House version of the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 2723), introduced in May with 90 Republican cosponsors, includes a provision that would require a union to win a majority of all employees in a bargaining unit—not merely a majority of employees who have submitted ballots—in order to be certified as bargaining rep. The text of the Senate bill was not yet available.

HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is a cosponsor of the legislation. Also signing on: James Risch (R-Idaho), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

“Anyone whose real concern is preserving the rights of individual workers should support the Employee Rights Act, which addresses many issues plaguing Americans in the workplace,” Hatch added, throwing down the gauntlet. Still no takers, however, from the senator’s skeptical colleagues across the aisle.