GOP rolls out Employee Rights Act to cripple union power

Republican lawmakers rolled out plans Monday for the first major reform of federal labor laws in six decades, including changes that could deal a potentially crippling blow to union political power if adopted.

Dubbed the Employee Rights Act, the legislation would affirm the individual rights of workers, giving them more options to walk away from unions if they do not feel the organizations are representing their interests.

"I believe workers should have the right to join a union. But I think they should have the right not to join a union as well," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a co-author of the legislation, at a press conference at the Capitol.

The legislation would prohibit a union from using a worker's membership dues for any purpose other than collective bargaining without getting that worker's prior written consent. It makes use of threats or force against a worker a federal crime. The bill also includes several reforms to workplace election rules, such as requiring all election have secret ballots and that a union win a majority of all workers, not just a majority of those who voted.