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Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. ANDREWS. For years, the understanding in this country has been, if you show up for work every day and work your heart out and do your best, what you get in return is a good wage, good benefits, and a future that's secure as long as your company's secure, but it seems like that version of the American Dream moves another continent, another ocean, another day away each day that goes by.

Outsourcing is destroying the middle class in the United States of America, and this bill is the outsourcers' bill of rights. It says to an employer, if you want to use as an excuse the collective bargaining and union activities of your employees and you want to pick up and move to Central or South America or Asia, here's the way to do it.

This bill draws a map of jobs outside--rather, it draws a map as to how to take jobs from inside the United States and move them outside the United States. If an employer, under our law for decades, says that I'm gonna shut down and move my plant or my office because you dared to try to organize a union or you've spoken up for the rights of the workers, that's illegal. The purpose of this bill is to remove the only effective remedy to combat that illegality.

If this bill became law, here's what would happen:

An employer who says, I'm tired of employees speaking up for their own rights. I'm tired of union organizing. I'm tired of collective bargaining. I'm moving to Malaysia, it would still be illegal under this bill for the employer to say that, but there would be nothing the labor board could do to stop that; because if the employer formed a shell company in Malaysia and took all of the money and put it in the shell company, and the labor board said, Well, you've got to pay backwages to the people you just laid off, there would be no money to pay the backwages.

This is the outsourcers' bill of rights. We don't need an outsourcers' bill of rights. We need a working person's bill of rights in this country. We need a bill of rights that says, if you hold up your end of the bargain, the American Dream will no longer move out of your reach.

This is a bill that overreaches, it undercuts the middle class of this country, and it should be defeated.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds.

The record should reflect the fact that there is an allegation that Boeing, in the case that the gentleman mentioned, because of reasons of union discrimination moved those jobs. There is nothing in this case that says, if a company uses a legitimate business reason other than discriminating against worker rights, they can't do so.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 20 seconds.

The previous speaker's claim that the National Labor Relations Board is dictating where jobs go in America is utterly incorrect. If any company said, We want to move from State A to State B because we think the State tax structure in State B is more favorable to us, they have an absolute right to do so. The issue is whether they can move because they want to discourage and undercut the right of collective bargaining. If they want to destroy collective bargaining, they can

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds.

The gentleman from Virginia just said that this bill restrains companies from growing jobs. Here's what it restrains. It restrains from saying to a worker who dares to stand up and bargain for themselves and fight for themselves, ``You're fired.'' That's what it restrains; and it should restrain that, because that's our law.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 20 seconds.

My friend who just spoke indicated that this decision, or attempt by the NLRB, would destroy jobs in South Carolina. That's not accurate. On page 8 of the NLRB's complaint, it says the relief requested by the NLRB does not seek to prohibit respondent, Boeing, from making nondiscriminatory decisions where work will be performed, including work at its North Charleston, South Carolina, facility.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds.

We don't have a czar controlling executive pay in this country. We have executives acting like czars outsourcing jobs around the world and ruining the middle class. That's the problem in the United States.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 10 seconds.

I'm sure the gentleman did not mean to imply that those of us who take our side are not patriots. We think patriotism includes the right to freely and collectively bargain, and we stand for it.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, when one listens to the back-and-forth in this debate, there's a lot of different points and I'm sure some confusion that flows from that. But the debate's really pretty simple, and it's about one question: If a group of people working at a business in this country chooses to try to organize a union and bargain collectively for their wages and their working conditions, and the employer is discomforted by that and the employer comes in and says, ``I don't like the fact you're trying to form a union and bargain collectively and assert your rights, so I'm moving to Malaysia. I'm out of here,'' should that be legal or not? We believe emphatically it should be illegal.

To say to American workers that they dare to speak up for themselves, they dare to assert their rights, they dare to bargain collectively, therefore their jobs could be moved overseas is wrong. It is illegal today to do that.

Now, in the Boeing case, a judge will decide whether or not Boeing did that. If the judge decides that Boeing didn't, the case is over. If the judge decides that Boeing did, then there will be remedies that would lie against Boeing.

But this is what this case is really about, this issue is really about, this bill is really about in the lives of daily Americans. How many of our constituents are sick and tired of making a call about their credit card or some other account and realize that the person in the call center at the other end is in Asia and has no idea what they're talking about?

If you want more outsourcing, if you think the problem in America is that too many jobs are being created here and we do more for other countries around the world, then this is your bill. But if you've had it with outsourcing, if you want jobs to be created in America, what we ought to do is defeat this bill and rapidly bring to the floor the jobs plan the President of the United States stood in this Chamber last week and proposed.

Let's stop creating jobs around the world and start creating jobs around America. Let's stand up for collective bargaining, and let's defeat this bill.

Statement of Professors From Colleges and Universities Across the United States on HR 2587

HR 2587, currently being considered by the House of Representatives and endorsed by a majority of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, would amend the National Labor Relations Act to take away from the NLRB the ability to remedy unfair labor practices involving the removal of work or the elimination of jobs by requiring employers to undo their unlawful actions. As scholars of law and labor policy, we are deeply concerned about the far-reaching impact this bill would have on employees' basic rights to organize, to bargain collectively, and to engage in other concerted activities protected by the NLRA.

The language of the proposed amendment to the Act is sweeping. It provides that the Board shall have no power to order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment, to rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or persons who shall be engaged in production or other business operations. This language has been justified by the bill's sponsors and critics of the Board as a response to the NLRB Acting General Counsel's actions in issuing a complaint against Boeing Corporation. As such, it would prevent the Board and the courts from directing Boeing to restore work to its employees in Washington State in the event that the company is found to have illegally moved the work in retaliation for those workers' exercise of legally protected rights.

But that unprecedented interference with a pending legal proceeding for the benefit of a particular employer is not all that the bill would do. If enacted, HR 2587 will eliminate the ability of the NLRB and the courts to effectively remedy any discriminatorily motivated decision to transfer work from employees or eliminate their jobs not for legitimate business reasons, but because the employees have engaged in union or other NLRA-protected activity. It will also eliminate any meaningful remedy for an employer's refusal to bargain with a union in circumstances where it is required to do so before transferring or contracting out work performed by workers the union represents.

The Board has long held that moving jobs from one facility to another or shutting down a particular operation to avoid unionization or to punish workers for engaging in protected activity violates a basic policy of the Act, that of insulating union activity from economic reprisal.\1\ The same is true of discriminatorily motivated decisions to subcontract or outsource work.\2\ The standard remedy for such a violation, regularly affirmed by the Federal Courts of Appeals, is an order to the employer to return the work that has been unlawfully eliminated or removed.\3\ In the interests of economic efficiency, however, the Board will not require restoration of work if the employer can show that it would be ``unduly burdensome'' to do so.\4\

An order to restore work that has been eliminated or removed is also the standard remedy in cases where the employer's actions were taken in violation of its duty to bargain. In unionized workplaces, employers have a legal obligation to bargain over certain decisions affecting where and by whom bargaining unit work is performed. If the employer acts unilaterally, without first bargaining with the union until the parties reach agreement or are at impasse, the Board routinely orders the employer to rescind the unilateral action and restore the work until the duty to bargain has been satisfied, subject again to the ``unduly burdensome'' standard.\5\

If HR 2587 becomes law, the Board will be precluded from ordering this common-sense relief. Employers will be able to eliminate jobs or transfer employees or work for no purpose other than to punish employees for exercising their rights and the Board will be powerless to direct the employer to return the work regardless of the circumstances.

Without the ability to order a unionized employer to bring back work that has been unilaterally transferred or outsourced in violation of the duty to bargain, the Board will also be unable to insure that employees, through their union, are able to engage in meaningful bargaining over such decisions.

We are dismayed that a single complaint, not yet tried by an administrative law judge argued to the Board, or ruled on by the courts, should be the basis for so fundamental a reversal of long-standing law. The legal theory on which the Acting General Counsel's complaint against Boeing is based is thoroughly consistent with existing law. Contrary to the claims of critics, the Acting General Counsel is not seeking to dictate where Boeing assigns work, but only to insure that such actions are not taken in retaliation for workers' exercise of rights protected by the NLRA. In fact the complaint itself specifically states that ``the Acting General Counsel does not seek to prohibit Respondent from making nondiscriminatory decisions with respect to where work will be performed, including nondiscriminatory decisions with respect to work at its North Charleston, South Carolina, facility.''

But as we have shown, the impact of HR 2587 would go well beyond overruling the Acting General Counsel's actions in the Boeing case. If enacted, it will give tacit permission to employers to punish any segment of their workforce that chooses to unionize or to exercise the right to strike by eliminating their jobs. It will allow unionized employers who find it convenient to ignore their duty to bargain with the union before transferring or eliminating bargaining unit work to act unilaterally without concern for legal consequences. Employers will be able to eliminate lines of work, hire subcontractors, switch jobs to non-union facilities or transfer them out of the country in violation of the NLRA--secure in the knowledge that the Board will be unable to order it to undo those actions.

In the Committee report regarding the bill, the majority states, ``To ensure employees can continue to exercise their rights under federal labor law, the NLRB will continue to have more than a dozen strong remedies against unfair labor practices to protect workers and hold unlawful employers accountable.'' However, the report does not list those remedies and we are at a loss to identify them. The Board's remedial power under existing law is already severely restrained. The Board cannot impose sanctions. It may not seek to punish wrongdoers. It cannot impose fines; it cannot require anything that would amount to a new contract between the parties. If the bill passes, the Board will have no effective response to basic unfair labor practices.

The Committee majority seeks to justify the reducing of employee rights and Board authority by claiming that it is merely strengthening the employer's right to make basic business decisions, including where and how to invest its resources. We reject the premise that restoring work to those who would perform it were it not for the employer's unlawful action violates an employer's basic entrepreneurial rights. The policy of restoring victims to the position they would have been in had it not been for unlawful conduct is common throughout our legal system, and it represents no more than a recognition of simple justice.


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