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Bernie Sanders seeks to force more workers into unions with 'workplace democracy' bill

Bernie Sanders authored the Workplace Democracy Act, a bill that, among other things, seeks to prevent states from enacting right-to-work laws. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A bill introduced by potential Democratic presidential hopefuls takes direct aim at right-to-work laws and seeks to give unions more power and influence in response to declining membership, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Workplace Democracy Act, authored by Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), was filed Wednesday.

"If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country," Sanders said in a statement.

What would the bill do?

The bill's stated purpose is to "amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, and for other purposes."

It seeks to accomplish that goal by:

  • Repealing the ability of states to enact right-to-work laws from the National Labor Relations Act
  • Eliminating the step in the unionization process in which the NLRB administers an election of eligible employees to make sure there is enough true support for the union before certifying it
  • Requiring employers to engage in negotiations on a first contract with a new union within 10 days of the request, and establishing subsequent deadlines that would send stalled negotiations into compulsory mediation or binding arbitration
  • Including independent contractors in the definitions of "employer" and "employee"

Why did they introduce this bill?

The statement on Sanders' website said that public support for unions has reached its highest level in 15 years. However, union membership is down to just 10.7 percent.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Sanders has received a majority of his political action committee financial contributions from organized labor over the past three decades, including his 2016 presidential campaign.

The bill comes just as the unemployment rate has dropped below 4 percent and the job market is showing signs of climbing wages.

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