Last week, Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.), alongside Cory Booker (D, N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D, N.Y.) introduced the Workplace Democracy Act, a potentially landmark bill for U.S. workers, during a Wednesday Senate gathering.
The legislation would make it easier for workers to unionize and negotiate with employers and, most importantly, repeal Right to Work in 28 states with laws currently in place.
This bill comes as a part of the “Better Deal Agenda” which leaders of the Democratic party and labor groups devised in November of last year.
“The Workplace Democracy Act restores real bargaining rights to workers and repeals the Right to Work laws like those that [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker has used to undercut American workers,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D, Wis.).
Under the act, creating and certifying a union is simply a matter of organizing workers to sign up for representation. This comes as a stark contrast to the current system which relies on a petition and election carried out by the National Labor Relations Board, and finally, it’s then up to the employer whether to recognize the union.
Once a union is created, employers would have 10 days to commence negotiation, and 90 days to develop a contract.
The most important part of the bill calls for a repeal of state-level Right to Work laws. Currently, 28 states have measures in place, with new laws being voted and debated on in a number of additional states.
“It was always going to come to this,” said Richard Dalton, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 in Ohio. “Right to Work isn’t just unfair for workers in the state, it’s unfair for the nation. With help on Capitol Hill, we can create a level, nation-wide playing field where businesses and workers can succeed.”
Right to Work saw a return to the spotlight following the Republican sweep in many states during the 2016 general election. Now, the new GOP majority aims to pass these bills, which had previously failed, despite heavy criticism and little support.
Aiming to save business owners from the cost of bargaining with unions, Right to Work makes employee participation and financial support optional. Workers can not only opt out of paying dues but can work as a non-member in traditionally unionized industries. Unions, on the other hand, are required to provide benefits and representation to workers regardless of their status or support.
Without financial support, unions collapse freeing businesses to lower wages, increase hours and slack on critical aspects of employee health and safety. The costs saved on bargaining remain at the top.
Numerous studies show that Right to Work states suffer from a sharp decrease in job growth, in addition to the general workforce suffering with rock bottom wages.
“Right to Work makes the driving force of our economy suffer for the benefit of a few wealthy business owners. It’s not right,” said Dalton. “As mid-terms approach we hope these Democratic senators earn the support they need to put a stop to it.”
For more information on Right to Work in Ohio, visit: http://protectohiosmiddleclass.org
SOURCE: Keep Ohio's Heritage
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