On March 7, 2012, lawmakers reintroduced two measures in the Senate, both of which would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but they serve different objectives. One bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), and the other is a Democrat- sponsored bill. The National Right-to-Work Act (S. 2173) introduced by Sen. DeMint would repeal the provisions in the NLRA and the Railway Labor Act (RLA) that permit employers and unions to draft agreements requiring union membership and payment of union dues or fees as a condition of employment. While Sen. DeMint sponsored identical legislation in 2011 and 2007, the bill failed to sufficiently advance during those terms. The latest version of the bill is the 40th time such a measure has been introduced in Congress since 1973. It is unlikely that this bill will advance in the Senate this year.
The Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act (S. 2168) reintroduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to stall as well. This bill would amend the NLRA’s definition of “supervisor” to enable more employees to be covered by the Act. Specifically, the legislation eliminate the terms “assign” and “responsibly to direct” from the list of supervisory duties in the NLRA. According to a press release on this bill, this change “would mean that only those with real authority to affect employees’ terms of employment could be classified as supervisors.” In addition, the bill would stipulate that to be considered a supervisor under the NLRA, the employee must perform supervisory duties during a majority of his or her work time.