House Democrats proposed legislation Wednesday to rewrite the National Labor Relations Act to aid union organizing.
Their proposed changes would increase the penalties for union-busting activities, limit employers' ability to fire employees, prohibit employers from being able to request a federally monitored vote in union elections, and codify the Obama administration's expanded "joint employer" doctrine into law.
The changes would make organizing by unions, a major financial supporter of the Democratic Party, vastly easier. The legislation, dubbed the Workplace Action for Growing Economy Act, is unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Congress.
"For too long, employers have used illegal tactics to fight back against union organizing drives — tactics like threatening workers and firing them for union activity. They have gotten away with it because the National Labor Relations Act — the law protecting workers’ right to organize — leaves workers with insufficient recourse. The WAGE Act changes that by creating meaningful penalties to prevent employers from violating the right to organize, by strengthening remedies for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and by guaranteeing the right to seek relief in federal court,” said Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
The legislation would make violating workers' right to join a union a penalty worth up to twice a worker's back pay and include a $50 fine; force a company to reinstate any worker who said they were fired for union activities while the case is still pending; make companies legally liable for workplace violations by subcontractors or other employers they do business with; and prohibit employers from being able to request a federally monitored vote whenever unions say they have obtained the signatures of a majority of workers seeking union representation.