Editorial: Protect warehouse workers from union coercion

The Detroit News, The Detroit News on

Published in Op Eds

The federal government should not be in the business of forcing unions onto workers. But Democrats both in Michigan and nationally are acting aggressively to push through pro-labor policies that make it much easier to organize workplaces.

The latest effort targets warehouse employees, who some argue have faced increasing workplace pressures to keep up with growing demand for online goods.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduced the Warehouse Worker Protection Act earlier this month to foist new rules on employers and reduce the autonomy of their workers.

The objective is to steer those workers into unions. Teamsters Vice President Tom Erickson stood alongside Sens. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, as the legislation was introduced.

The bill would establish the deceptively named “Fairness and Transparency Office” to send out bureaucrats to monitor warehouses that measure worker performance.

Framing employee performance metrics as inherently anti-worker, the bill would require employers to provide a slew of information on quotas and other productivity mandates they might use to evaluate employees.

Assessing employee performance is critical to jobs throughout the public and private sectors. Without such tools, how do employers objectively assess a worker’s effectiveness, efficiency and safety?

Federal bureaucrats are not in a position to determine what employers need from the workforce, nor what workers need from them. A mandate that effectively abolishes all quotas is certainly not the answer.


Other aspects of the legislation are in the service of organized labor, trending toward coercion.

The legislation creates a new unfair labor practice charge prohibiting an employer from imposing a quota that “significantly discourages or prevents or is intended to significantly discourage or prevent” employees from exercising their rights to unionize.

Another measure in the bill would allow representatives of a labor organization to conduct outreach to workers at the same time they are inspecting workplaces and privately interrogate employees.

Among other measures, the Warehouse Worker Protection Act’s revived ergonomics standard would also impose a massive financial burden on employers and allow union safety representatives to rehab workplaces to their benefit.

This legislation is nothing more than a plan to continue to grow the size and scope of government while chipping away at the rights of private employers and their non-union workers.

Republicans in the Senate should see it for what it is, oppose the bill and refocus efforts on maximizing worker freedom and autonomy.

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