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As President Barack Obama ramps up his campaign rhetoric, we will all be hearing the word “fair” many times in the coming months. A fair shot. A fair chance. A fair opportunity. A fair America.
However, one place you won’t hear the president addressing fairness is in the workplace.
My home state of South Carolina is a right-to-work state, where the rights of all workers, union or not, are protected. Last year, economist Arthur Laffer crunched the numbers and learned that personal incomes in — and the state economies of — right-to-work states are growing faster than non-right-to-work states.
Unfortunately, appeasing organized labor is at the top of the president’s list. We saw this come to life in my hometown of North Charleston, with the National Labor Relations Board’s ridiculous suit against the Boeing Co. And we see it again as the NLRB attempts to allow unions to be certified as quickly as seven to 10 days, instead of the current average time of 40 days.
In reality, it is easy to see many workplaces across the country are not fair. Thousands of Americans are forced to join unions as a condition of employment, with little to no chance of ever having their voices heard. Their dues are funneled to political causes that many members don’t believe in, and some are forced to strike based on the decisions of labor leaders instead of their own best interests.
To combat these uneven rules, I have introduced the Employee Rights Act in the House, with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sponsoring the Senate version. This is not an anti-union bill but simply a mechanism to ensure all workers have the ability to make their voices and opinions heard.
The Employee Rights Act would require every unionized workplace to hold a secret ballot election every three years to confirm its employees want to remain unionized. It would also require a secret ballot election to be approved by a majority of members before leaders can order a strike and guarantee all members personally approve of how their union dues are being spent politically.
Additionally, the Employee Rights Act will require at least 40 days for union election certification. Employees deserve more than 10 days to have their future, and the future of prospective employees, decided.
Let me be clear — if someone wants to join a union, that is their right. I am not trying to take that away. What I am doing is calling attention to some startling numbers, such as that only 10 percent of current union employees have voted to unionize in their workplace. And while recent polls show union members are split almost evenly between Democrat and Republican, 93 percent of union contributions are made to Democratic candidates.
Ensuring fairness in the American workplace should be a cornerstone of our economic policy. By creating a positive environment for employees and employers, we can help drive job creation across the nation. And the Employee Rights Act will help do just that. Sounds fair to me.
Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is a member of the Rules Committee.