Last week, amid a flurry of late-session proposals, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6384, "To repeal a limitation in the Labor-Management Relations Act regarding requirement of labor organization membership as a condition of employment." Put more simply, the bill would nullify the right of states to enforce "right to work" statutes.
The 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act added subsection 14(b), allowing states to pass these "right to work" laws to prohibit unions and employers from agreeing to "union security" clauses -- contract provisions which require union membership as a condition of employment. There are currently 22 so-called "right to work" states in the U.S.
The text of Rep. Sherman's bill is unavailable at the GPO at this time, but he introduced a similar bill in the 110th Congress. H.R. 6477, introduced in July 2008, states only:
Section 14(b) of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 164) is amended by striking subsection (b) and redesignating subsection (c) as subsection (b).
We might safely assume that H.R. 6384 will be similarly pithy. Regarding the introduction of this measure, the Congressman issued a statement including the following explanation:
“I do not believe that there should be a right to be treated unfairly or to endure unnecessary restrictions. Right-to-work laws strip unions of their legitimate ability to collect dues, even when the worker is covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. This forces unions to use their time and members’ dues to provide benefits to free riders who are exempt from paying their fair share.... These laws are harmful to states like California, which allows labor unions to organize, because now we have to compete with the race to the bottom as our companies have to compete with those where the workers would like better wages, working conditions and benefits but are unable to organize to get them.”
At the time of this posting, there were 17 Democrat co-sponsors of Rep. Sherman's bill -- up from 8 co-sponsors for his 2008 effort.
- "BREAKING: Democrat Introduces Legislation to End Right-To-Work States" -- LaborUnionReport at RedState.com
- "U.S. House Representatives Attempting to Repeal Right to Work Laws" -- National Right to Work Committee
- "Right to Work for Less" -- AFL-CIO Legislative Action Center