A chief benefit of Worker’s Choice is its legislative simplicity. It would require only a small change to most states’ public sector employment law, but would provide public employees an enhanced ability to exercise their freedom of association and provide them more control over their own pay and working conditions.
Worker’s Choice aims to provide the following benefits:
- It will increase freedom for workers: Nonmember public employees will be both free to completely disassociate themselves from a group they do not wish to support and free to negotiate their own preferred method of compensation and working conditions. Since no two workers are the same, this will make it easier for workers to meet their own unique needs in their own way, rather than just those that a union has decided would be good for them.
- It will fix the free/forced rider issue: Eliminating public sector unions’ duty of fair representation would address one major objection unions commonly make about right-to-work laws. Unions would be freed from providing services to employees who do not financially support them. Likewise, public employees would no longer be forced to accept the pay, benefits and representation of a union they do not wish to support.
- It will boost public sector productivity: Most public sector union contracts prescribe that pay must be based exclusively on seniority. Effective and productive workers are not allowed to earn more than less effective and productive workers. With the freedom to negotiate their own methods of compensation, nonmember employees could be compensated based in part on their productivity, which, in turn, could have a positive impact on the entire workplace. Since these employees provide taxpayer-funded services, this would also benefit taxpayers, as they would be getting more effective and better services for their money.
- It will make unions more responsive to workers’ needs: Providing public employees with Worker’s Choice may make unions more responsive to their own dues-paying members. If unions do not adapt to the changing needs of their members and employees see that they can do better negotiating their own contracts, more of them may resign from the union. Unions will have to provide enough benefits to members to genuinely earn their support, which will in turn benefit union members.
- It will prevent imposing new burdens on government employers: Working within existing public sector collective bargaining laws, Worker’s Choice will not allow for the rise of micro-unions. This will protect employers from being forced to negotiate with more than one union per employee group. While it may require public employers to negotiate individual contracts with some employees for the first time, most public employers already use similar arrangement for nonunion employees — about 61 percent of government employees are not unionized.
Appendix A below contains draft model legislation which details the major provisions of Worker’s Choice. The draft attempts to prevent ways in which unions could use the independently negotiated contracts with individual employees as a means to increase their position at the bargaining table; it prohibits unions from linking the terms of their collective bargaining agreement to the terms of a nonmember employee’s contract or discriminating against nonmembers. An example of this practice would be a union negotiating that its lowest-paid member be paid higher than the highest-paid nonmember. The draft legislation in Appendix A would make this type of activity an unfair labor practice.