Print Issue Volume 98 - No. 5

“Easy In, Easy Out”: A Future for U.S. Workplace Representation

This paper proposes an amendment to our basic labor laws that I call “easy in, easy out.” Essentially, representation elections—secret-ballot votes to decide whether employees want union representation and whether they want to be represented by the particular petitioning labor organization(s)—in relatively broad units, would, over time, become automatic. Every two years (unless the union achieved a collective bargaining agreement, in which case every three years) the employees in the unit, after an initial minimal required showing of interest, would have an opportunity to vote in a secret ballot whether they wish to continue the union’s representation, select another organization, or have no union representation at all. Petitioning labor organizations and employers would be required to share certain specified information, in electronic form, with the voting employees. The theory is to make representation elections more like general political elections, to make it easier to vote in a union (if that is the employees’ preference), and to make it easier to vote the union out if the employees no longer believe the bargaining agent is accountable to them or worth the dues they pay. Other aspects of the labor laws would continue unchanged.

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