A bill introduced in Congress called the “Employee Rights Act” (ERA) has gained the support of employer groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The bill’s goal is to reach a balance between union rights, employee rights, and employer rights in matters involving labor organizing.
As a focal point, the bill ensures a secret ballot representation election overseen by the NLRB, instead of the collection of signature cards, making it possible for employees to vote for union representation privately.
The bill would also block the NLRB General Counsel’s attempts to reinstate an old NLRB rule — known as the Joy Silk doctrine — which would require employers to bargain with a union once they received union cards signed by a majority of their employees.
In April 2022, the NLRB General Counsel filed a brief advocating for a change in established precedent, which would compel employers to acknowledge unions as representatives of their employees without allowing employees the chance to vote on union membership through a confidential ballot conducted by the Board.
The Act is also intended to safeguard employees’ privacy by minimizing the disclosure of their personal information to unions. Under the measure, personal information could not be divulged for any reason other than union organizing or after a representation proceeding concludes. Union members would not be required to subsidize activities that don’t relate to representation, such as political causes or candidates.
The bill addresses employee and independent contractor classification, laying out specific standards for evaluating who falls into which category.
The Act would also provide a conclusive joint employer standard. In situations involving franchisors and the employees of franchises, it would clarify that providing employee handbook templates, training, or other resources does not establish joint employment liability for franchisors.