Pro Union Incentives and Business Penalties

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled instructions that a massive and partisan $3.5 trillion reconciliation package is intended to fund “pro-worker incentives” and “labor enforcement and penalties.”

The broad language is designed to cover a tax credit or deduction on union dues, which would provide a financial sweetener for members, and the creation of civil monetary penalties that punish companies for interfering in workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act.

The legislation that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to remove barriers for workers seeking to form unions and secure contracts with their employers. The Measure now moves to the Senate.

The bill modifies the National Labor Relations Act to give the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) greater enforcement authority, as well as to make it easier for workers to unionize. Among the measure's provisions, it gives the NLRB authority to enforce its own orders and allows the board to impose civil monetary penalties against employers who engage in unfair labor practices. 

It also modifies the process under which employees may organize and vote to join a union, including by requiring the NLRB to schedule pre-election hearings to be held within eight days of when workers file an election petition with the NLRB; it expands the number of employees eligible for collective bargaining by narrowing the definition of supervisor and independent contractor who are not eligible, and by modifying the definition of joint employer; and it prohibits employers from permanently replacing employees who strike and from discriminating against employees who support or participate in a strike. 

Supporters of the bill say it is needed to protect workers and their right to organize and form unions. In supporting unions, the measure increases incomes, improves benefits and promotes better working conditions, they say; it protects and grows the middle class. They say union membership has declined because of political attacks against unions, decisions by the NLRB that hamper efforts to organize, and aggressive employer tactics that tilt the playing field against unionization and intimidate workers. They argue that longstanding weaknesses in the law, such as denying NLRB enforcement authorization and the lack of meaningful penalties for employer violations, have stifled workers' ability to organize, which in turn has led to wage stagnation and income inequality. Even when workers vote to unionize, they say, employers bargain in bad faith because the NLRB has no enforcement powers.

Opponents of the bill say it represents an assault on the workplace rights of both employers and employees in order to help a special interest: labor unions. The bill, they say, will subject employees to harassment by union leaders, expand the pool of employees that are harassed, and undermine individual privacy by sharing information on workers with union organizers. It also infringes on workers' right to free speech, they argue, by forcing workers who are not union members to contribute to unions for political causes they don't support. The bill assumes employers are guilty until they can prove that they didn't interfere in a failed election to unionize, and improperly infringes on employers' privileged association with their own legal counsel.

What are your thoughts about creating tax incentives for union membership and penalties for employers that, according to the NLRB, have violated workers’ union rights?

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