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It’s Time for a New Labor Day

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Labor Day was originally set aside to reflect upon contributions the labor movement has made to keep our nation strong and prosperous. This year, however, Americans should focus on how far the labor movement has moved away from its roots.

Unions that once served to protect their employee-members have since transformed into personal piggy banks for the Democratic Party. During the 2010 election alone, 93 percent of the hundreds of millions of invested in politics by unions went to support Democratic candidates, even though 42 percent of union households voted for GOP candidates.

Many Americans were outraged by ex-Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet’s comments calling the White House the “Bank of Washington,” but where is the outrage over the Democratic Party’s “Bank of the American Worker?”

Two bills are currently pending before congress to give employees more control over how their dues money is spent, among other things. The Employee Rights Act (ERA), introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), and the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RASIE) Act, sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN). If Democrats will allow these bills to pass, all employees will soon have reason to celebrate.

Rather than taking money first and allowing questions later, the ERA’s paycheck protection provision requires labor unions to obtain approval from their members prior to spending their dues money on political causes.

The ERA also gives union members the opportunity to exercise a right that is fundamental to American democracy: the right to vote. An analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Labor Relations Board indicates that less than seven percent of currently unionized, private sector employees voted for the union in their workplace.

Just as Americans go to the polls each election cycle to choose who represents them, the ERA would allow union workers – many who never had a say in being unionized in the first place – to decide whether the union their predecessors chose still adequately represents them. American citizens are allowed to hold elected officials responsible by holding elections, and the ERA would allow workers to hold their representatives responsible, too.

The RAISE Act similarly aims to bring more American principles into the workplace. Currently, 80 percent of union contracts prohibit merit-based pay raises for individual employees. Instead, raises must be approved by the union, which often places ceilings on how high a worker’s pay may advance. If the RAISE Act were passed, employers would be allowed to provide merit-based pay raises and bonuses to employees. Union workers could finally be compensated for their individual hard work, and not be held back by their fellow workers’ performance.

Though these two bills are dedicated to making the workplace fairer to the American worker, union-backed Democrats in the Senate recently voted against the RAISE Act. While union-households overwhelmingly support the legislation, labor leaders would rather ignore their interests and continue filling Democratic campaign war chests.

Generations have come and gone since our country last revised its labor laws. This Labor Day, shouldn’t our country stand up for the American worker? In a society based on giving every citizen the right to vote, shouldn’t we extend that right into the workplace, too? It’s time for a new Labor Day.

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