On April 26, 2012, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation that would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to permit employers whose workplaces are governed by collective bargaining agreements to award their employees with additional wages or other compensation for their job performance. A week earlier, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RAISE) Act (H.R. 4385, S. 2371) in the House of Representatives.

Specifically, this measure would insert the following into the NLRA:

Notwithstanding a labor organization's exclusive representation of employees in a unit, or the terms and conditions of any collective bargaining contract or agreement then in effect, nothing in either--

  1. section 8(a)(1) or 8(a)(5), or
  2. a collective bargaining contract or agreement renewed or entered into after the date of enactment of the RAISE Act,

shall prohibit an employer from paying an employee in the unit greater wages, pay, or other compensation for, or by reason of, his or her services as an employee of such employer, than provided for in such contract or agreement.

In an op-ed piece for the Washington Examiner, Rep. Rokita wrote: “the National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly ruled that individual bonuses constitute ‘direct dealing,’ which is illegal under collective bargaining law, and that the NLRB has the power to strike down any bonuses or pay raises not negotiated by unions.” Rokita states further that his legislation “would amend the [NLRA] to reform the collective bargaining process and allow employers to give merit-based bonuses, raises or other increases to an individual employee above the level set by the employee's union contract.”

Sen. Rubio echoed these sentiments in a press release: “It is a sad day in America when no matter how hard an employee works, he or she is blocked from higher earning potential,” adding, “This bill fixes this arbitrary ceiling placed on these workers and allows the free market to function as it is supposed to. These kind of actions by the NLRB are the very root of the larger issue at hand: a board of unelected government bureaucrats dictating to businesses what employees are worth.”

The House version of the RAISE Act has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The Senate companion bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.