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If Donald Trump’s gravity-defying ascendancy has validated anything, it is that for middle America, jobs and economic security are still the dominant issue. Republicans have talked up tax reform, regulatory relief and fiscal restraint — and those are all critical to growth.
But it’s time for Republicans to expand their portfolio of issues and concentrate directly on increasing worker paychecks. Hillary Clinton loves to talk about helping “the working class folks.” This is a voter group she knows so much about, because they are the chauffeurs that drive her to the Ritz Carlton hotels and clear the dinner tables when she gives her $200,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs. But Hillary can’t champion these workers’ rights because the unions won’t let her.
Republicans can and should. One way to do so would be to embrace a new initiative called the Employee Rights Act (ERA). Mr. Trump and all the remaining Republican candidates ought to get on board. The Employee Rights Act is currently sponsored by Republicans Orrin Hatch of Utah in the Senate and Tom Price of Georgia in the House.
The ERA (not to be confused with the long ago failed feminist Equal Rights Amendment) would instantly boost take home pay for millions of workers by having fewer union dues snatched from their paychecks. One key provision of the ERA is to require Big Labor to get workers explicit approval before unions can spend workers’ money on political activities.
Under current law, unions can snatch these payments right from the worker paycheck unless the employee formally requests the money back. Although funding a union’s political machine is supposed to be voluntary due to Supreme Court precedent, a McLaughlin & Associates poll found that 67 percent of workers did not know they had a right not to pay union dues for political campaigns.
Of course, it’s no surprise that union leaders who get rich and fat off these payments have failed to advertise that members can “opt out” of picking up the tab for political expenditures.