Workers have a right to unite

It should be easy for workers to form or join a union. We, therefore, support an “Employee Free Choice Act” allowing workers to join a union by simply signing a membership card. We oppose so-called “right-to-work” laws, which enable workers to benefit from collective bargaining without paying a fair share of the costs of conducting collective bargaining.

Legislation that has been introduced in Congress:

“The Workplace Democracy Act” [S. 2810] and [H. R. 5728] would allow workers to join a labor union by simply signing a membership card. When a majority of the workers in a workplace or industry have signed membership cards, the union involved is recognized as the collective bargaining agent for workers in that workplace or industry.

This bill would also repeal Section 14 (b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives states the right to pass “right-to-work” laws.

Major party platforms on this issue:

The Democratic Party platform:

“We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union and will work in every way we can—in Congress and the federal government, in states and with the private sector—to reach this goal.”

“A major factor in the 40-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to bargain collectively for better wages and benefits have been under attack at all levels.”

“Democrats believe so-called “right to work” laws are wrong for workers—such as teachers and other public employees who serve our communities every day—and wrong for America. We will continue to vigorously oppose those laws and other efforts that would eliminate dues check-off procedures, roll-back prevailing wage standards, abolish fair share requirements, restrict the use of voluntary membership payments for political purposes, attack seniority, restrict due process protections, and require annual recertification efforts. We oppose legislation and lawsuits that would strike down laws protecting the rights of teachers and other public employees.”

The Republican Party platform:

“We support the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws and call for a national law to protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.”

“Although unionization has never been permitted in any government agency concerned with national security, the current Administration has reversed that policy for the Transportation Security Administration. We will correct that mistake.”

“(T)he current Administration and its agents at the National Labor Relations Board….have outlawed alternatives to unions even when they were favored by the workers. Their Project Labor Agreements discriminate against the overwhelming majority of workers by barring them from jobs on taxpayer-funded projects. Their patronizing and controlling approach leaves workers in a form of peonage to the NLRB. We intend to restore fairness and common sense to that agency.”

“The unionization of the federal workforce, first permitted by Democrat presidents in the 1960s, should be reviewed by the appropriate congressional committees to examine its effect on the cost, quality, and performance of the civil service. Union representatives in the federal workforce should not be paid to conduct union business on the public’s time.”

Polling on this issue:

Polling results typically include a “margin of error.” There is one type of poll that does not need to factor in a margin of error – elections. In the end, elections are the only form of polling that really matters.

Polling on “right-to-work” legislation was conducted on Primary Election Day in Missouri on August 7, 2018. A referendum was on the ballot regarding a right-to-work bill that had been passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. The results were very lopsided, with 67% voting to repeal the right to work law with only 33% in favor.

From a Gallup poll in response to a question regarding respondent’s attitude toward unions: 62% approve of unions, 30% disapprove, 8% neutral.

Rationale

The rise in union membership that took place during the first half of the 20th century stimulated and accompanied the rise of the middle class in the United States during that same period. Over the past 40 years, the decline of the middle class and the decline in union membership have also moved in tandem.

We believe that the government needs to counter the power of multi-national corporations and act to protect the incomes, jobs, and working conditions of American workers by making it easy and simple to join or form a labor union. The best way to do that is through an “Employee Free Choice Act” like The Workplace Democracy Act.