Georgia lawmakers are considering a workers' rights bill

A few years ago, the U.S. Chamber released a report that highlighted the phenomenon of state and local governments requiring private employers to sign a “labor peace agreement” with a union as a condition of doing business in a government-claimed facility or project conclude a ā€œproperty interest.ā€ This phenomenon is generally found in jurisdictions where organized labor's political allies are in charge and want to change policy to make it easier for unions to organize.

The basic purpose of industrial peace agreements is to force an employer to make concessions to a union that it would otherwise be unlikely to make. This may include recognizing the union through card check instead of a secret ballot, remaining neutral in union formation, or allowing outside union organizers access to the workplace. These agreements are inherently mandatory for both employers and employees.

Other states are beginning to adopt this tactic of union allies and instead apply the same theory to protect workers' rights, which is a positive development. For example, Georgia lawmakers are currently considering Senate Bill (SB) 362, which states that in order to be eligible for an economic development incentive, an employer must do certain things related to the work or service for which the incentive is provided: not do may be based.

More specifically, the bill would prohibit such an employer from voluntarily recognizing a union by using a signed authorization card (e.g., a card check) in lieu of a secret ballot. Unions often try to extort these cards from employees through pressure or outright deception and then demand recognition from the employer. By allowing workers to vote privately, SB 362 prevents potential intimidation and ensures that workers' decisions reflect their true feelings.

Related

SB 362 would also prohibit employers from disclosing employees' personal information to a union or an entity acting on behalf of a union without the employees' written consent, unless required by another state or federal law. This would protect workers from unwanted home visits or harassing phone calls, which are just a few of the ways union organizers use the above pressure tactics.

Proponents of SB 362 emphasize the need to maintain Georgia's economic competitiveness. By offering incentives to businesses, the government attracts investment, promotes job creation and strengthens the local economy.

These incentives range from tax relief to infrastructure support, and SB 362 seeks to strike a balance by ensuring that worker representation processes do not hinder economic growth. By requiring secret ballots, SB 362 aims to provide clarity and predictability, which can attract more businesses to Georgia while protecting employees.

Tennessee passed a bill very similar to SB 362 last year, and the Georgia Senate has already passed it. It is advancing in the Georgia House of Representatives and appears to be close to passage. Hopefully that will happen and other states will follow suit.

About the authors

Sean P Redmond

Sean P. Redmond is vice president of labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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