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Providing for Congressional Disapproval of the Rule Submitted by the NLRB Relating to Representation Election Procedures -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I haven't been able to hear all the speeches, but I commend Senator Enzi on his detailed and eloquent explanation on how we arrived where we are today.

I wish to add a history lesson of my own to tell you my journey in terms of where we are. As a student in college in the 1960s, in business management, I learned a lot about the Industrial Revolution, the labor revolution, the development of labor unions and labor/management practices as they developed from the 1920s until the 1960s and now up until today.

It is absolutely correct that the playing field was unlevel in the 1920s and 1930s. It is absolutely true that we had poor working conditions, safety risks were high, and wage-an-hour issues were debated. There was a place and an appropriate nature for us to level the playing field so management and labor could go together, head-to-head, and negotiate and arbitrate and have binding agreements upon themselves to protect the safety of workers and also improve the environment of the workers in the United States.

For 75 years those laws served us well. All of a sudden, it seems there is a perfect storm. From every corner, the NLRB seems to be making proposals to try to tilt the playing field away from fairness and equity and it is not right.

Last year, 70 percent of the elections for unionization in the United States of America were successful. There is not a problem in terms of people being able to organize and negotiate collectively. The problem is that the regulatory bodies are attempting to circumvent the legislative branch of government and to rule and regulate what they cannot pass on the floor of the Senate.

When Mr. Becker was appointed to the NLRB last year by the President, over the objection of the Senate and during the recess--it was an example of where the President used a recess appointment to go around the lack of approval, and advice and consent of the Senate.

This particular legislation we are talking about is similar to the specialty health care decision. The specialty health care decision allowed unions to create micro unions within the same working body, where there could be a plethora of unions in one store, all to fracture and fragment the ability of a business to cross-train and compete effectively. It is an attack on the free enterprise system and circumvents what our Founding Fathers intended us to do.

We have a legislative branch with the House and Senate; an executive branch with the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet and his appointees; and we have a court system. The President makes initiatives that go through the legislature. The legislative body takes initiatives and passes laws. Ultimately, the courts are the arbiters if either one or both ever challenges the ruling of one or the executive order of another. That is the way it should be. But right now we have a two-legged stool in America. Instead of legislative, executive, and judicial branches, we have a judicial and executive branch trying to run the country. We all know what happens to a two-legged stool. It falls over.

I talked with some businesspeople this morning who talked about the uncertainty of doing business in America. It didn't all have to do with ambush elections or specialty health care movements or special posters to promote unionization in the workplace, but they were part of it. The regulations that come from the administration through the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the National Mediation Board, and a plethora of other organizations, are making it difficult for America to do business in a time where it is essential that we do business.

When the stimulus passed 18 to 24 months ago--maybe 30 now--it was designed to bring unemployment down to 6 percent. Unemployment remains above 8 percent, and one of the reasons it does is that the deployment of capital by businesses is not taking place because of the uncertainty of the workplace and what lies ahead, whether it is health care, whether it is ambush elections, card check, or whatever it might be.

So I come to the floor to commend the Senator from Wyoming for taking an initiative that is available to the Senate to bring a resolution of disapproval forward for a resolution of an executive branch body that circumvents the legislature itself. I hope he is successful in sending the message that it is time for us to take American politics and American justice and American legislation back to what our Founding Fathers intended.

Let's stop trying to take a playing field--one that has been level for 75 years, where we have had the greatest labor-management relations in the history of any country in the world--and tear it up or put us into a situation where we are adversaries, as we were 75 years ago. Let's stop the ambush election. Let's stop the arbitrary posting. Let's stop the specialized unionization. Let's stop all of this and return to the laws that have worked for three-quarters of a century. Three-quarters of a century is a great test of time. There is no reason now, through appointments to a regulatory body, to change the history of the Senate and the history of the court system.

I will end by quoting a President of the United States--a Democratic President of the United States--who, on April 21, 1959, was U.S. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In his campaign for the Presidency, he declared that elections should have at least 30 days between their call and the vote so employees can be fully informed on their choices from both sides of the issue. If it was right for John F. Kennedy on April 21, 1959, it is right for the Senate today, on April 24, 2012.

I commend the Senator from Wyoming on his presentation, his intensity, and his ability to bring this issue before the American people and to the floor of the Senate.

I yield the floor.


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