A House labor committee held its 7th partisan hearing today to examine numerous proposals that would benefit the powerful and well-connected over working families and their rights. Rather than moving forward on efforts to grow and strengthen the nation's middle class, the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee instead considered a variety of bills proposed by Republicans that will weaken the National Labor Relations Act and workers' rights.
"I think the American people want us to work together to create the conditions where jobs can be created by entrepreneurs and employers in this country. That's their agenda," said Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), the senior Democratic member of the subcommittee. "I think these bills fail that litmus test of really addressing the problems of jobs in this country."
The Republican majority discussed numerous pieces of legislation that would, among other things, make outsourcing of American jobs overseas much easier, give corporations additional tools to prevent union elections, eliminate the ability of workers and employers to voluntarily agree to bargain collectively, and enable employers to play favorites and avoid bargaining with employees' representatives when it comes to pay.
"None of the legislative measures discussed will do anything to further the central purposes of the NLRA: to grant workers a meaningful opportunity to join together, if they wish, to better their own lives and those of their families and communities, and to insist on their right to be heard in workplace decisions that affect them," said Devki Virk, a member of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC. "Indeed, taken together, it is difficult to view these measures as anything other than a broad-based, politicized attack on these purposes."
Although this was the 7th hearing into NLRA issues, the committee has yet to hold a hearing to examine recent scandals that threatened the operations of the NLRB.
On May 11, Reps. Miller and Andrews asked Chairman Kline to hold a hearing with the Inspector General of the National Labor Relations Board into evidence he uncovered involving current and former Republican members of the NLRB and the transmission of confidential government information to private parties.
The Inspector General concluded that these disclosures "evidence a serious threat to the Board's decisional due process." Although the Republican NLRB member at the center of the investigation has since resigned, questions remain as to how the confidential information was being used by anyone receiving it.
"This committee has let go unaddressed the most corrosive scandal in the NLRB's history," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the full committee "It's unbelievable that this committee would work to undermine the National Labor Relations Act and at the same time not deal with this scandal at the Board."