The Empower Employees Act Introduced to Further Empower Republicans

By Richard Thayer

While much of the nation’s attention has been focused on Rep. Anthony Weiner’s skivvies, Republicans have been busy, busy, busy introducing and pushing legislation that would further undercut the future effectiveness of unions. Well aware of the key role unions and union activists will play in the 2012 elections, Republicans are doing everything they can to weaken their influence on those elections.

Take for example a recent piece of legislation introduced in the House by freshman representative Tim Scott of South Carolina. The bill, filed under the false pretense of “empowering” federal employees, would prohibit the automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks. The misleading name of the bill is “The Empower Employees Act.” It would better reflect the true intent of the legislation if it were to be called “The Empower the Republican Party and Big Business Act.”

In introducing the thinly disguised union-busting bill Rep. Scott writes: “Federal union employees enjoy benefits far greater than those in the private sector and the unions’ power to bargain is supported by the dues they automatically collect from employees’ paychecks each month. The bill does not prohibit federal workers from joining a union or paying union dues. In fact, this legislation would increase employees’ freedom by allowing them to choose to pay union dues rather than having them taken out of employees’ paychecks before the workers even see the money.” (Emphasis added.)

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) who either has or will introduce a companion piece of legislation in the Senate this week, adds, “This is a simple issue, workers should have the right to make their own decisions with their paycheck and to choose whether they want to pay dues to union bosses….union bosses have now turned to filling their coffers with taxpayer dollars by automatically deducting union dues from federal workers paychecks. Let’s instead empower federal employees to make their own choices about their paychecks.”

This from the same people who campaigned on less federal government.

As Joe Davidson points out in his Washington Post column, this proposed legislation is unnecessary. That’s because federal employees already have the power to decide whether they want the payroll deduction. It’s called Form 1187, Request for Payroll Deductions for Labor Organization Dues.

Like similar legislation introduced on both the federal and local levels, the Scott/DeMint bills are aimed at whittling away at federal unions.

For example, last week the House federal workforce subcommittee held a hearing on legislation that would prohibit labor organization representatives from representing union members on the clock.

And earlier this month the House approved legislation that would prevent the Transportation Security Administration from bargaining collectively with its employees.

Commenting on the Scott bill William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said “it is laughable…to suggest that this bill increases federal employees’ rights in the workplace. By law, all federal union membership is completely voluntary. No employee can pay union dues without proactively approaching the union and submitting a form to their agency expressing their will to do so. Congressman Scott and his Republican colleagues know this, but they’re not letting that get in the way of busting federal unions.”

It seems a bit hypocritical that Republicans, while expressing moral outrage over Rep. Anthony Weiner’s indiscretions and lying to the American public, not only condone but actively pursue obscene legislation that is an affront on all working Americans, whether federal or not.

To contact your representative, go here.

To contact your senator, go here.


One Response to “The Empower Employees Act Introduced to Further Empower Republicans”

  1. mcoville Says:

    What is wrong with giving people the option to join a union or not? Union membership should not be a condition of employment at any level.

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