Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation that would ensure that all American workers can “choose to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union as a condition for employment.”
Their proposal, the National Right to Work Act of 2021, repeals six provisions of current federal law and regulation that grant labor unions the power to collect mandatory membership dues from all employees in a workplace covered by a representation agreement.
Twenty-seven states have adopted right-to-work laws since they were authorized by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, but the federal government hasn’t followed suit, despite a 1988 Supreme Court ruling in Communications Workers of America v. Beck that workers can’t be required to join a union as a condition of employment.
“More than eight in 10 Americans say workers should be free to join a union if they want to, but no one should be forced to join a union,” Paul said in a video statement made public with the release of the proposal.
“The way the law is written today, millions of private-sector workers can be forced to surrender part of every paycheck to a labor union as a condition of employment.
“The Supreme Court has already ruled that federal employees have the right to work under federal law, and my bill makes sure that employees of private businesses—airlines, railroads, and so forth—will get the same protections.
“It is time to put bargaining power back where it belongs, in the hands of American workers.”
Wilson said in a statement: “I, along with over 80 percent of the American people, believe that every worker should have the power to decide whether or not to negotiate for themselves with their employer.
“This bill is about giving freedom to hard-working Americans. As one of 27 right-to-work states, South Carolina has seen first-hand the job creation when we protect freedoms for American workers, with Michelin, BMW, and Boeing, among many others.”
Co-sponsors of the proposal in the Senate include Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Charles Grassley of Iowa, John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, John Boozman of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Mike Braun of Indiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. No Democrats are currently co-sponsors.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, said in a video accompanying the release of the proposal that “the National Right to Work Act is a one-page bill that does one simple thing: It lets workers choose for themselves whether a union deserves their support.
“Big Labor’s push-button unionism bill, the so-called ‘PRO Act,’ is a massive and monstrous bill giving the union bosses sweeping new powers of coercion over every aspect of the workplace, including the destruction of all 27 state right-to-work laws,” Mix said.
“While union bosses and their pet politicians wage an all-out assault on workers in Right to Work states, Senator Paul and Congressman Wilson are working to expand Right to Work protections to every American and, in doing so, standing with the nearly eight out of 10 Americans that oppose forced unionism.”
Mix was referring to H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021, introduced by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va,).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need for Congress to protect and strengthen workers’ rights,” Scott said Feb. 24, while introducing the proposal.
“Over the past year, workers across the country have been forced to work in unsafe conditions for insufficient pay because they lacked the ability to stand together and negotiate with their employer.
“The PRO Act is an opportunity to honor the contributions of the many frontline workers during the pandemic and American workers nationwide who continue to uphold our economy,” Scott said.
The PRO Act would repeal the 27 state right-to-work laws presently on the books and significantly increase the power of labor unions to organize nonunion workforces and collect dues from all of a company’s employees.
A Senate version of the PRO Act, which was approved by the House in 2019, but never brought up for a vote in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc