On Oct. 6, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Workplace Democracy Act. The presidential nominee’s legislation is aimed at protecting the “millions of Americans who want to join unions and are unable to do so because of the coercive and often illegal behavior of their employers.”
According to Sanders’ summary of the act, it would bring two significant changes:
- “Make it easier for workers to form unions through a majority sign-up process. This section would allow the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union as the collective bargaining representative if a majority of eligible workers sign valid authorization cards and the NLRB verifies that majority. Workers will get to elect which process to use to form unions, rather than allowing employers to dictate the course of action.
- “Ensure companies can’t prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract. This section would require an employer to begin negotiating within 10 days after certification. If no agreement is reached after 90 days of negotiation, either party can request compulsory mediation. If no first contract is reached after 30 more days of mediation, the parties would submit the remaining issues to binding arbitration.”
The Employee Rights Act instituted an opposite measure of federally supervised secret-ballot elections. Both legislations are designed to hinder coercion and pressure tactics that employers and unions exert on employees as they vote on unionization.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans disagree with the Workplace Democracy Act, writing: “Workers should have a free choice about whether to join a particular union. And the only way to guarantee that right is to ensure that the secret ballot remains the standard. Forcing workers to publicly declare their support – or lack thereof – for a particular union opens them up to pressure from all sides. Don’t be deceived. The only way to provide employee free choice is to protect the secret ballot.”
Stay tuned for more.