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Public Statements

Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, this is a Friday across our country, and there are millions of Americans who are going to work under circumstances that exist because of the union movement and collective bargaining in the history of this country.

If they work the 41st hour, they'll get time-and-a-half for working overtime. Many find themselves protected by good health benefits and good pension benefits that will guarantee their family a good situation while they're working and a safe and secure retirement. The whole concept of the weekend--that for many American workers will begin this afternoon--exists because of the hard-fought gains of collective bargaining.

We wouldn't have a strong America without a strong middle class, and we would not have a strong middle class without collective bargaining. This bill strikes at the heart of collective bargaining by paralyzing the agency that enforces the ground rules of collective bargaining, the National Labor Relations Board.

This is really part 2 of a strategy by the Republican majority in the House and the Republican minority in the other body to paralyze the rights of Americans to organize and bargain collectively.

Act 1 has occurred since President Obama took office. He has made nominations to the National Labor Relations Board, and not one of those nominees has ever received a vote on the floor of the other body. Understand this: the minority in the other body has not voted against these nominees; they just refuse to put the nominees up for a vote.

Today, there are five nominations pending before the other body. If the Senate were to act on those nominations and reject them, the President would presumably make other nominees until he could find people who could clear the process. If the other body were to confirm those nominees, we would not be here having this discussion today because the Board would be functioning.

But a functioning Board is clearly not the objective of the other side here. So then act 2 comes along, and this is act 2. This bill says that the National Labor Relations Board can do effectively nothing. My friend, the chairman, referenced the story of a woman who is seeking back pay because of alleged violations of her rights by her union, and she's unable to proceed with the collection of that remedy because the minority in the other body has refused to confirm or refused to even consider any nominees of the National Labor Relations Board; and should this legislation go through here today, we are guaranteeing that nothing will happen because the Board cannot go to court to enforce one of its orders if the Board cannot act. Under this proposed statute, the Board could not act.

We are here today because a recalcitrant minority in the other body has steadfastly refused to even take a vote on the President's nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. This bill compounds that travesty. This bill creates chaos. It says that decisions of the Board cannot be taken to court to be enforced, which means as a practical matter those decisions will never be enforced. It says that 11 regional directors of the National Labor Relations Board now have their appointments in jeopardy since their appointments were made since January of 2012 when this bill--it says anything following that is invalid.

Employers and employees and unions go to the regional offices of the NLRB to resolve disputes, to prevent strikes, to achieve justice; but this bill paralyzes that effort.

There are some who believe that an America in which the bosses make all the decisions and the rest of us stand up, salute and say, yes, sir, is how the country should function. We do not believe that. We believe in a country where workers can freely organize, speak for themselves, sit at the bargaining table, and stand up for their rights.

The agency entrusted by law to enforce those rights is being paralyzed by this bill, collective bargaining is being paralyzed by this bill, and we should oppose it.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I yield myself 15 seconds.

Mr. Speaker, President George W. Bush used the same legal authority to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board that President Obama used here. There was not a word of challenge from the other side ever in that process.

At this time, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to the leading champion of workers' rights in the House of Representatives, the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the gentleman from California (Mr. Miller).

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Mr. ANDREWS. I yield myself 15 seconds.

Mr. Speaker, what President George W. Bush did 171 times--the legal authority he relied on 171 times--is the legal authority relied on by President Obama, which is the subject of this discussion this morning.

I am now pleased to yield 2 minutes to someone who understands the value of collective bargaining to America's middle class, the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Courtney).

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

President Obama is relying on the same constitutional provision that President Reagan relied on when he appointed Alan Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve, the same constitutional provision he relied upon when he appointed Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Oregon (Ms. Bonamici), someone who stood up against the assault on collective bargaining and the middle class.

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

Mr. Speaker, every Member of this House, I'm certain, wants to follow the Constitution. On our side, we think that the Constitution means the same thing whether George W. Bush is President or Barack Obama is President, and that Constitution vests the President with recess power appointments which were never challenged by the other side in the Bush administration.

At this time, I'm pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Bishop), a long-time fighter on this committee for the rights of the middle class.

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

With all due respect to the last speaker, this bill doesn't push the pause button. It pushes the erase button. It erases the rights of American workers to bargain collectively and organize.

At this time I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to my friend and neighbor from New Jersey (Mr. Holt), a member of the committee, and someone who understands that there's a direct connection between economic growth and collective bargaining.

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

My friend talks about playing by the rules. President Obama followed the rules that President Reagan followed, President Bush followed, President Clinton followed, President George W. Bush followed. The other body has the ability to resolve this dispute by taking votes on the five nominees that are presently before the United States Senate.

I am pleased to yield 1 minute to a consistent voice for America's working families across the country, the gentlelady from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).

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

Mr. Speaker, the prior speaker's own words indicate the contradiction of his position. He said it is unconstitutional that these recess appointments took place. He then just said that the appeal of this matter is pending before the United States Supreme Court. Marbury v. Madison does not give the D.C. circuit the final say on constitutionality or the Supreme Court that authority.

I am pleased to yield 2 1/2 minutes to someone who has made a career here of fighting for the rights of working Americans and collective bargaining, the gentlelady from Connecticut (Ms. DeLauro).

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

The House deserves an accurate record of where this matter stands legally.

After the Senate refused to cast a vote on any of the President's nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, the President acted through the recess appointments clause that his predecessors have relied on far more often than he has. The D.C. Circuit ruled that those appointments were invalid. The case is presently under consideration under writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which either will or will not hear the appeal.

The majority is advancing a rather novel legal theory that a decision by one circuit court of appeals establishes with finality the constitutionality or lack of constitutionality of a provision. This is truly a novel theory. Marbury v. Madison makes it clear: only the United States Supreme Court has finality in these sort of matters. The President acted in good faith under a constitutional provision that others have followed before.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank the Speaker and colleagues of both parties for the spirited nature of this debate. At its core, this debate and this bill is about the primacy and value of collective bargaining in our country.

There really are two different points of view on collective bargaining: one is that it's a nuisance; the other is that it's an engine of economic growth.

There are those who believe that the proper organization of our economy is that the bosses decide what happens, everyone else salutes, and that's what happens. This led us to situations where we had children working in sweatshops, people working 80 or 90 or 100 hours a week, and people being forced out and fired for all sorts of invalid and irrational reasons.

In our country's history, we're fortunate that there was a great movement of collective bargaining among the working people of this country. In the 1930s, those who preceded us here enshrined the rights of collective bargaining in various statutes. Since then, for nearly 90 years these statutes have worked to promote fairness, equity, and economic growth in our country.

Collective bargaining works--not just for those in a union, but for all those in the United States of America. This bill is a direct assault on collective bargaining. It is an assault that has seen its manifestation in other parts of the country--against public workers in Wisconsin, against all workers in Ohio.

Collective bargaining is one of the main engines of the development of America's middle class, and America's middle class is clearly the main reason for the development of the strongest economy on the face of the Earth. A vote against this bill is an affirmation of the value of collective bargaining. A vote for this bill is an erosion of that precious right that Americans have always enjoyed and should enjoy.

We have the opportunity to stand up for those who wash the dishes, patrol the streets, build our buildings, teach our children. We have the opportunity to stand up for the right of collective bargaining. I urge both my Republican and Democratic friends to stand up for America's middle class and vote ``no'' on this bill that paralyzes and assaults collective bargaining in our country.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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