Lawmakers in the other Washington are currently considering legislation on the federal level that mirrors the work of the Freedom Foundation by forcing union leaders to represent their members' interests' rather than their own – and giving employees the power to do something about it if they don't.
Co-sponsored by 136 representatives and 33 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the measure enjoys significant support from congressional Republicans. An earlier version of the bill failed to gain traction during the Obama administration, but the shifting political landscape in Washington, D.C., has revived interest in giving the nation's private-sector collective bargaining laws a much-needed overhaul.
The ERA seeks to reform America's current labor laws to prevent union abuses of private-sector workers that fall under the National Labor Relations Act. The ERA features eight components intended to improve the union election process, protect workers from union harassment and force unions to obtain approval before using worker dues for political purposes.
If the act passes, it would have a profound impact on limiting union leaders' dominance and control over their members and putting employee rights ahead of the interests of union bosses.
The ERA has much in common with the types of labor reform measures the Freedom Foundation has advocated for and is attempting to implement in Washington state. For example, the Freedom Foundation has sought to make union elections a regular occurrence. Just this year, the Freedom Foundation backed SB 5551, a bill that would have allowed public employees to vote on their union regularly and decertify or change unions if they are not happy with their representation.
It has been decades since some unions have held elections – nearly 50 years in the case of the Tacoma School District. The ERA would force private-sector unions to look out for the interests of the workers instead of their own political interests or face decertification or replacement.
Next, the ERA would help prevent union harassment and intimidation of workers by turning this frequent intimidation into a criminal offense. The Freedom Foundation has long seen and documented examples of unions intimidating their own members to prevent them from voicing dissent or attempting to leave the union.
Freedom Foundation staff who have walked door-to-door informing healthcare and childcare providers of their rights have heard countless firsthand accounts of union members who have faced intimidation and outright lies from their union leaders and representatives.
With the ERA, the ability of private-sector unions to engage in aggressive and malicious tactics would be severely curtailed.
Finally, one of the key missions of the Freedom Foundation is to prevent mandatory union member dues from being used for political purposes. Through litigation and educational outreach to union members about their right to opt out of the political portion of their dues, the Freedom Foundation has fought the unjust usage of member's dues on political issues.
If the ERA passes, unions would have to get approval from workers before using their dues on political issues, campaigns and candidates. This differs from the current state law of Washington where, in many cases, workers are required to opt out of supporting their union's political activity, rather than opting-in. Unions go to great lengths to prevent workers from learning about and exercising their options.
Under the ERA, union-represented workers in the private sector would all have the opportunity and knowledge to no longer allow unions to take money from their paychecks to support causes that they do not agree with and would not support of their own accord.
And anything that gives workers more control over their workplace representation and make union executives more accountable is well worth supporting.