Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) today voted against H.R. 1120; legislation that would effectively bring to a halt the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by prohibiting the Board from carrying out any decision finalized after January 3, 2012. If this bill becomes law, it will invalidate more than 500 NLRB decisions, including a May 2012 decision to restore employer pension contributions for Oregon freight workers employed by Oak Harbor Freight lines.
"This bill does real harm to hardworking men and women in my district and across the country, Bonamici said from the House floor. If politicians in Washington decide to stop enforcing laws designed to protect workers, middle-class families will be paying the price."
In September of 2008, Oak Harbor Freight Lines announced it would no longer make required payments to the Oregon Warehouseman Trust, an employee pension and welfare trust, following a work stoppage during contract negotiations. In May 2012, a unanimous panel at the NLRB found that the company violated multiple sections of the National Labor Relations Act, and ordered the company to reimburse the Oregon Warehouseman Trust for the missed trust fund payments. The decision will be invalidated if H.R. 1120 becomes law.
Proponents of H.R. 1120 argue that a recent decision by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals necessitates this legislation. In that case, Noel Canning v. NFIB, the court held that President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional, denying the NLRB the necessary quorum to conduct business. The decision, which is inconsistent with prior precedent and practice, is on appeal to the Supreme Court. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that the Noel Canning decision, if upheld, would also have justified the invalidation of 329 recess appointments made by Presidents, Reagan, both Bushes, and Clinton.
The bill is opposed by the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Association of Machinists, Airline Pilots Association International, Transportation Trades Department, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Building and Construction Trades Department, and United Steelworkers.