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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1120, Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues and friends who are managing this legislation.

We are in the Judiciary Committee passing something called the REINS Act because our friends on the other side of the aisle don't believe that the President is omnipotent.

Frankly, as my good friend from Colorado said, the President doesn't control the bus drivers and school aides and nurses aides and doesn't control the secretaries and doesn't control the construction workers who happen to be women. They don't control those individuals. Oh, and let's not forget the office workers who happen to be women.

Many of my constituents who get up every morning--I saw one young woman, Mr. Polis, get on a city bus, drop her child off at the school, really do a marathon dash to the school in order for the bus to make a U-turn around--not a school bus, a city bus--to get on that bus to track all the way across to get to her job. I can assure you that she is not getting probably equal pay for equal work because that is the dilemma that we have.

So I support ordering the previous question and voting ``no'' so that we can move forward and do the right thing.

And that just compounds my reason for coming to oppose this rule on the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act because it is, in essence, a complete opposite. I would call it something else, but I'm going to restrain myself. H.R. 1120 is ridiculous.

In actuality, my friends, what it does is put a spear through the relationships that corporate and workers are able to have before the NLRB. The President has just finished appointing Republicans and Democrats--three Democrats and two Republicans--to do the work that brings businesses together for a fair assessment of their issue with working people.

Many resolutions of issues dealing with fair pay, dealing with working conditions are done at the NLRB.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentleman.

Do you know what this bill does? It puts a knife in the process that has been used by President Bush 140 times--recess appointments--to keep the work of the American people going forward. How backwards is that?

I love my friends, but we need to put on the floor sensible gun legislation, we need to be talking about immigration reform. But to talk about blocking the NLRB from work when President Bush used the same process. And the fact that a court ordered something--300 other opinions said the recess appointments are legitimate.

I ask my colleagues to vote down the rule, vote down the bill, stand with your working friends in America, stand with our unions, stand with making America great, and stand with peace and reconciliation by a working NLRB.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose this rule, and the underlying bill, H.R. 1120, the "Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act.''

This bill effectively prevents American employees from seeking remedies when their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, are violated.

The NLRA guarantees American workers in the private sector the right to act collectively to improve the conditions of their workplace. This applies for formal meetings with supervisors, as well as to employees who gather in the break room to discuss a new company policy or compare their paychecks. It also protects workers when they act together to protest working conditions, such as leaving the building because the employer refuses to turn on the heat. Recently, these laws protected employees who discussed their salaries with each other on facebook. You don't need to be part of a union to be protected by these laws.

Under the NLRA, employees can go to the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, with these grievances.

The NLRB is also charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices involving unions.

Recently, the D.C. Circuit, one of our federal appellate courts, ruled that the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, cannot carry out its congressionally delegated duties of enforcing the NLRA because it deemed President Obama's appointments to the Board invalid.

The entire decision hinged on a controversial interpretation of the word ``the'' in our Constitution. Article II states that ``The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.'' The court decided that this clause of our Constitution refers to some recesses, but not others. Many other federal courts have disagreed with this stretched reading of our Constitution, and in areas of the U.S. covered by these courts, the D.C. Circuit decision does not apply.

While we eagerly await the Supreme Court's verdict on the meaning of the word "the,'' the NLRB is still allowed to continue carrying out its statutory duties under the NLRA, and American workers still retain their rights under the NLRA.

That is why I am opposing. This bill merely eliminates the rights of American workers in places outside the D.C. Circuit to seek a remedy when their employer violates our National Labor Relations Act. Without a remedy, rights are meaningless. Depriving employees of this remedy during these difficult economic times is merely a stab in the back to hard working Americans across the country. This Congress should not take actions that undermine American employees and working families.

The argument that an active NLRB produces economic uncertainty is unfounded. America has prospered since the creation of the NLRB. Other countries that have much stronger laws protecting worker rights and are much more heavily unionized, such as Australia, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, are doing better or at least as well as the United States in this economic downturn. H.R. 1120 merely seeks to add more uncertainty and create fewer rights for American workers during these tough economic times.

Mr. Speaker, I oppose this rule, and the underlying bill. Congress should not remove the ability for employees to seek redress for workplace wrongs. Instead, we need to stand up for our employees and working families.


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