WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Eight Republican U.S. senators Tuesday introduced legislation that would weaken labor unions by letting workers in union shops choose whether to join.
The National Right to Work Act was introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and is cosponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and David Vitter of Louisiana.
The GOP lawmakers say their bill would end what they call workplace discrimination by allowing individuals to form, join or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities, as they choose.
"No American should be forced to join a union and pay dues to get a job in this country," DeMint said in a release. "Many Americans are already struggling just to put food on the table, and they shouldn't have to fear losing their jobs or face discrimination if they don't want to join a union.
"Forced-unionism shields unions from member accountability and has a detrimental effect on the economy. In states where companies are forced to hire only union workers, businesses have struggled to compete while they deal with counterproductive work rules."
Hatch said unions, facing falling membership, "have turned to strong-arm political tactics" to force membership on those who don't want it.
"This is simply unacceptable. At the very least, it should be the policy of the U.S. government to ensure that no employee will be forced to join a union in order to get or keep their job," he said.
Paul called unions a hindrance "in opposition to the American spirit."
DeMint made it clear unions' political clout is on the minds of the Republican lawmakers pushing the right-to-work legislation.
"Forced-unionism allows union bosses to forcibly take dues from a politically diverse group of workers and then give hundreds of millions every year almost exclusively to one political party," DeMint said. "Workers should have the right to provide for their families without having to pay for political activity they strongly disagree with."