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Thune, Johnson Introduce Bill to Protect South Dakota Workers and Support Small Businesses

Bicameral legislation would protect workers’ rights and provide small businesses with stability and flexibility

April 25, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) recently introduced the Employee Rights Act of 2023, legislation that would modernize labor policies in order to match the needs of the 21st century worker and workforce. The bill would promote growth and innovation, protect workers rather than union bosses, and allow Americans to take home more of their hard-earned money.

“Washington Democrats have long bowed to the demands of union bosses by prioritizing radical labor policies that harm small businesses and workers,” said Thune. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this common-sense bill that upholds individuals’ ability to choose to work as an independent contractor and ensures workers’ rights are protected against coercion from union bosses and the Biden administration’s heavy-handed labor agenda.”

“South Dakota is a right-to-work state, and I’m proud to be a part of legislative efforts to ensure South Dakota workers’ ability to make their own decision to join a union,” said Johnson. “The Employee Rights Act protects worker privacy, guarantees secret ballot elections, and protects tribal businesses from National Labor Relations Board intervention. These provisions are commonsense.”

The bill was led by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) and cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), James Comer (R-Ky.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Scott Franklin (R-Fla.), Bob Good (R-Va.), Erin Houchin (R-Ind.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Mary Miller (R-Ill.), John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).

The Employee Rights Act would:

  • Protect workers’ right to a secret ballot union election;
  • Require unions to receive permission from each member to use his or her union dues for purposes other than collective bargaining, such as political contributions;
  • Limit the amount of employee personal information a union receives during an organizing drive;
  • Provide clarity on the joint-employer standard by stating that businesses should not be held liable for other employers who are not under their control; and
  • Protect independent contractors and clarify the definition of “employee.”