Letter of Support: Rep. Rokita's RAISE Act

April 19, 2012 J

Dear Representative Rokita,

On behalf of more than 2 million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I commend you for introducing the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RAISE) Act, H.R. 4385. Your bill is based on a commonsense principle: workers should be able to receive additional pay for performance recognized by their employers, not held back by collective bargaining contracts negotiated by union bosses.

Unions have a long history of working to represent and protect workers from employment abuses in this country. Yet in recent years the web of special rules negotiated through union contracts has sometimes done more to hold workers back and hurt the economy than it has done to help.

One example: today’s collective bargaining contracts create both a floor and a ceiling on workers’ wages. Employers who wish to offer bonuses or better wages to high-achieving employees are accused of “direct dealing” – a practice forbidden by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its current interpretation of collective bargaining law. This means unionized employees will receive the same pay as everyone else in their unit, no matter how hard they work, all according to the terms set by union contracts. This practice is harmful and discouraging to hardworking individuals because their earnings potential is capped by outmoded “seniority” rules. It also harms businesses because they can’t encourage increased productivity through merit-based pay.

The RAISE Act would fix this major flaw. Your bill clarifies that nothing in the National Labor Relations Act, the law that governs unions and collective bargaining, bars employers from offering merit-based bonuses or pay increases to individual workers. Unions will still be able to set the minimum wages received by workers in their bargaining unit; they simply will not be able to prevent those same workers from receiving extra rewards for workplace achievement.

Yet even this commonsense reform is likely to be strongly opposed by some special interests. When workers know their own performance plays a bigger role in determining their pay than collective bargaining negotiations do, this weakens union bosses and threatens the power of Big Labor. These bosses will likely try to argue the bill is a bad deal for union workers. But that defies common sense: rewarding individuals for their hard work and achievement is anything but “anti-worker.” It is also important to note what the RAISE Act does not do. Employers will not be allowed to “play favorites” and shower anti-union workers with rewards or retaliate against union backers. Existing NLRB rules already prohibit discrimination on the basis of union membership; nothing in this bill changes that.

There are plenty of hard-working individuals that would stand to benefit from the additional earnings generated by merit-based compensation in these tough economic times. The only thing standing in the way is a senseless regulatory barrier that benefits Big Labor at the expense of everyone else, including its own dues-paying members.

Americans for Prosperity is proud to support the RAISE Act, H.R. 4385. I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.


James Valvo
Director of Policy
Americans for Prosperity

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