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On July 26, 2018, Rep. Phil Roe reintroduced the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 6544). The bill provides important protections for workers with regard to union organizing and other activities. Specifically, it updates the National Labor Relations Act in important ways:
- it requires secret ballot elections to determine union representation;
- it mandates opt-in rather than opt-out systems for voluntary contributions to union political operations, aka “paycheck protection”;
- it changes the majority for a union certification election to include all affected employees, not just those who voted;
- it permits employees not to provide personal information to union organizers; and
- it criminalizes union threats and violence.
By requiring a secret ballot election for union representation proceedings, H.R. 6544 eliminates “card check” organizing. Card check is a process through which a union can be certified merely by getting employees to sign authorization cards, which can be done in public and in front of union organizers. The threats of coercion, intimidation, and deception to sign these cards makes it an inherently undemocratic process, and the U.S. Chamber has a long-standing position favoring secret ballot elections over card check.
A new provision in the reintroduced Employee Rights Act deals with union decertification. H.R. 6544 stipulates that when there has been a turnover of more than 50 percent of an initial bargaining unit, an employer may request recertification of a union via secret ballot election. The bill as originally introduced in 2017 would have required an automatic decertification process as soon as half of the originally unionized employees turned over.
Overall, the legislation will reset the National Labor Relations Act to reflect modern workplaces. The reintroduced Employee Rights Act is a long overdue bill whose time has come.