05.09.18

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Workers’ Rights

WASHNGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined her Congressional colleagues in introducing bicameral legislation to strengthen workers' rights when organizing to bargain for better wages, benefits and safer working conditions.

The Workplace Democracy Act would help level the playing field for workers and reduce the barriers workers face when exercising their right to organize and join a union.

“Wisconsin has a proud tradition of respecting hard work and rewarding it by giving workers a strong voice,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will strengthen the economic security of working families and move Wisconsin’s tradition of supporting workers forward.”

The rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits and safer working conditions have been severely undermined. Sixty years ago, nearly a third of all workers belonged to a union. Today, that number has gone down to 10.7 percent. When workers express interest in forming unions, 75 percent of private-sector employers hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns. An employee who engages in union organizing campaigns has a one in five chance of getting fired. With public support for unions at 61 percent, the highest in 15 years, this legislation has been endorsed by virtually every major union in America. 

The Workplace Democracy Act, led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), would make it easier for workers to join unions in a number of ways.

It would end right to work for less laws by repealing Section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act, which has allowed 28 states, including Wisconsin, to pass legislation eliminating the ability of private sector unions to collect fair share fees from those who benefit from union contracts and activities.

Under the legislation, when a majority of workers in a bargaining unit sign valid authorization cards to join a union, they must have a union. Companies would not be allowed to deny or delay a first contract with workers who have voted to join a union. Unions would be given the right to have their voice heard through secondary boycotts and picketing. And workers would have the right to know when their company spends millions of dollars running anti-union campaigns.

The bill would also stop employers from ruthlessly exploiting workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or denying them overtime by falsely categorizing them as a “supervisor.”

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The full text of the legislation is available here.

A summary of the legislation is available here.