Georgia has been a right-to-work state for decades and is one of the nation’s five least unionized states. Currently, Georgia workers can voluntarily join a union and their dues are automatically withdrawn from their paychecks until the worker officially quits the union. Some government entities require or favor bidders who use union employees. “Card check,” a non-secret ballot method of holding union elections wasn’t passed in Congress, but may soon be implemented anyway by an over-zealous US Dept. of Labor. Georgia House Bills 361 and 362 maintain the state’s reputation for protecting employees’ freedoms through paycheck protection, secret ballot union elections, and competitive bidding and other requirements for government and quasi-government agencies which are contracting public works construction projects.
Paycheck protection, in HB 361allows employees who wish to withdraw from union membership to revoke their dues authorization at any time for any reason. It also requires yearly written re-authorization for union dues to be deducted from paychecks.
HB 361 enshrines the rights of employers and employees to demand a secret ballot and to refuse the release of sensitive or private employee information beyond what is legally required. This protects workers and employers from heavy handed card check tactics.
HB 362 requires Georgia agencies and local governments to not consider unionization as either a negative or positive in relation to the competitive bidding process for construction projects.
The common sense reforms in HB 361 and HB 362 provide a balanced playing field that preserves the union’s rights to do their job through collective bargaining for their members. It also preserves the rights of every Georgia worker to be provided with a reasonable process that provides the flexibility he needs to establish or maintain relationship between himself and the union. Government entities can’t discriminate between union and non-union employers when awarding construction contracts. HB 361 & 362 are two companion bills worthy of support.
Virginia Galloway is State Director of Americans For Prosperity Georgia where she leads membership of over 55,000 activists in the State. She is the principal public policy director for Georgia. Joel Aaron is State Communications Director and Grassroots Coordinator of Americans For Prosperity.