Most of us work day-in and day-out to make a wage we can live on hoping that our good work will be recognized by our employer and will result in an increase in our wages. We hope that our initiative and drive will move us above our coworkers who are not perhaps as hardworking or talented. This is a version of the “American Dream.” But for approximately 8 million workers they cannot get rewarded for their individual effort, or talent, or initiative. You see they are union workers who have had their wages negotiated for them by bargaining representatives. The “union” tells workers that they will fight to get them a good wage with some good increases over the life of the contract. Sounds good doesn’t it? But did you know that the “union” also restricts what workers can get paid?
According to an article in The Heritage Foundation “Few Americans know that unions also set a ceiling on workers’ wages: Businesses effectively may not pay individual workers more than the amount bargained for by the union.” What it breaks down to is this. An employer may not give a union employee a raise for individual effort or achievement. They must give a raise to all the employees in the bargaining unit or to no one. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that giving such an increase to an individual is a circumvention of the authority of the union to be the sole bargaining agent for the employee(s) and thus is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
As an individual who has worked hard all his life to earn a pay check based upon my good work I found this circumstance to be outrageous. Fortunately there are some Congressional representatives that are trying to change that situation with the introduction of the RAISE Act in both the Senate and the House. RAISE stands for Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees. According to an article published on the SHRM website “On April 18, 2012, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., introduced H.R. 4385, the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RAISE) Act, in the House of Representatives. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced companion legislation, S. 2371, on April 26, 2012.”
What this bill does is introduce language to amend the National Labor Relations Act by inserting “…nothing in either section 8(a)(1) or 8(a)(5), or a collective bargaining contract or agreement renewed or entered into after the date of enactment of the RAISE Act, shall prohibit an employer from paying an employee in the unit greater wages, pay, or other compensation for, or by reason of, his or her services as an employee of such employer, than provided for in such contract or agreement.” The amendment would not change any current union contract but would apply to any agreements negotiated in the future.
To my way of thinking this good legislation from a union member’s standpoint, it not only provides protection of the contract but also allows individual achievement. The current union contract method promotes working to the lowest common denominator mentality. After all why should you work hard if everyone gets paid the same? Now with this legislation people may work to a higher level in the hopes of achieving more. Of course it will be fought “tooth and nail” by unions because they know that if workers discover they can get rewarded for their own efforts they will quickly realize that they don’t really need the union.
If you want to learn more about RAISE check out the following:
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