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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript - National Labor Relations Board


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SCHULTZ: Well, folks, are you convinced yet? Do you believe that there has been an attack on labor?

Those were clips over the last five years here on THE ED SHOW, and now, we`re at the pinnacle point in my opinion when you look at the total destruction of the National Labor Relations Board. This has been a systemic approach by the Republicans over years to get to this point to totally erase out any kind of labor law. You look at the number of states that are going right to work and all the legislation that`s being offered up by radical governors who were attacking wages, blaming middle class workers for the financial woes of each one of their states.

They want to put it on the back of the workers. They want to take away their voice in the workplace and now what they want to do is take away the overriding board that decides labor law in this country. They want to destroy it and the way they`ve done it is through obstruction, not giving President Obama the nominees he wants. And so, now, we`re down to one member on the National Labor Relations Board that is supposed to have five appointees that are political, three Democratic and two Republican based on who`s in the White House.

But, of course, they won`t give that to President Obama. So the last person on the Labor Relations Board, his term will end on august 1st just a few weeks away, and then what? Do you really think between now and 2016 that the Republicans are going to step to the plate and help President Obama put together what FDR started 78 years ago? The answer is hell no. This is about attacking workers. This is about attacking minorities. This is about keeping the working folk down, concentrating the wealth, more corporate power, and a restrictive approach when it comes to growing our economy.

Now, with all of that, we have added 40 months of private sector job growth with no help from the Republicans. We`ll talk about that in the next segment.

But I want this country, every American, to understand that you don`t have to be in a union to be affected by the National Labor Relations Board, because if there`s no overriding arbitrator. If there`s no overriding board that can make decisions in disputes and make labor law and enforce things on behalf of workers, what do we have? We have a free-for-all in the economy. We have the only recourse of having what`s known in the old days as total general strikes, which would be the worst thing that could ever happen to this economy.

So, as so many people put the economy on the back of President Obama, what we need to realize is that, yes, there`s been a bunch of filibusters in the senate but there has also been a systemic attack on workers and now they`re trying to strip away the institution of the National Labor Relations Board. It`s a serious issue. Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think.

Today`s question: if Republicans kill the NLRB, should organized labor start a general strike? Text A for yes, text B for no to 67622, you can always go to our blog at We`ll bring you the results later on in the show.

I`m joined here in New Orleans by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and the international vice president of the United Steel Workers, that is Fred Redmond.

Gentlemen, great to have you with us. We need to focus is on how serious this is. Mayor Reed, your thoughts on the destruction of the board.

MAYOR KASIM REED (D), ATLANTA: My thoughts is we need to act like it`s urgent. There are a very small number of people who are acting like this is a big deal aside from you and aside from labor. And people who are not in unions need to wake up and get it.

The NLRB has oversight for 80 million American jobs and whether you`re in a union or not, your wages are impacted by how the NLRB behaves and how labor is treated. So when labor is treated well, even if you`re not in a union, you need to care about this.

And we can`t make the mistake isolating this into an organized labor argument. If you have a job, if you`re one of the folks sitting in the mainstream who walks around believing that labor doesn`t impact you, you`re wrong. The reason that wages have been so stagnant, the reason that there`s 2 trillion in capital sitting on the sidelines is because there`s no energy to raise wages and pay people what they`re worth. So this NLRB standing impacts every single person that`s watching this show. You got to get in the game.

SCHULTZ: Fred Redmond, the steelworkers have been on the front line of all of this for a long time. What would it mean not having an NLRB? What would that leave for workers in their future?

FRED REDMOND, UNITED STEEL WORKERS: Well, first of all, Ed, the mayor is exactly right. The NLRB has not been designed to promote issues that affect organized labor. Over 85 million workers that work for private employers are covered by the National Labor Relations Act and only function of the National Labor Relations Board is to enforce the provisions of that act and that act gives workers what we consider workplace democracy, give them the right to minimum wage, the NLRB set minimum wage laws, set laws for parental leaves, give workers the right to join the union if they elect to.

But as far as the steelworkers are concerned, what this means, Ed, is many cases that we have pending in the NLRB will not be resolved. We got cases of workers that have been locked out, workers that have tried to join our union and at the end -- interfered with by the employers and these sort of issues to the steelworkers will be left unresolved if the Republicans get away with this.

SCHULTZ: Stripping away worker protections, that`s what this is. Stripping away the governing body that protects workers in America to give them an avenue of grievance. But when you look at the systemic approach of what has happened while the conservatives are trying to get rid of the NLRB, here they are with six Republican radical governors who made it their focal point and their future to go after public employees and take away their voices in the workplace, what we saw in measure 2 in Ohio.

What about the number, Fred, of right to work legislation, the number of states that are doing this? How can we not view this as some major game plan on their part?

REDMOND: Well, we have to view it as a major game plan because right to work was historically contained the states in the South. But now when we look at the attempts that`s been made in places like Ohio and Indiana where right to work legislation has been put forward, then we see this as a spreading phenomena, which give workers the right as we say to work for less which takes away their right to collective bargaining and take away their right to have a voice in the workplace.

So, you know, the irony of this, Ed, when we look at what`s happening in the Congress today and in the Senate regarding the appointments by President Obama, the irony of this is, 38 companies have signed on to legislation that would go forward to try to outlaw through the D.C. circuit the president`s ability to make recess appointments. Of those 38 corporations that signed on to briefs supporting that decision of the D.C. courts, those 38 companies combine have gave $6 million in campaign contributions --


REDMOND: -- to Republicans.

So we have to look at this, Ed, as another attempt by the publicans. This time not to put forth legislation against workers but to be inactive in legislation that would help workers.

SCHULTZ: How does this restrict job growth in the inner city, Mayor?

REED: Well, it restricts job growth because it`s having a significant impact on public sector polite. Really as we`ve gone through the worst in many years something very unusual happened. We actually had a retraction of more than 400,000 employees during the worst of the worst.

Generally during the worst of the worth that`s when you actually need your public sector employees. You need to focus on infrastructure, construction, roads, bridges. We actually did the opposite and because of Republican intransigence, we`ve had to lay off mass numbers of public sector employees and it`s impacting the economy and it`s affecting people in cities across America.

SCHULTZ: And this inherently affects more minorities in this country, does
it not?

REED: There`s no question. I mean, obviously, any time you have a spike in unemployment, black people and people of color historically are disproportionately impacted but if you go back and certainly look at the presidency over the last 30 years when we`ve had economic downturn, there was a surge in public sector employment even under President George Bush. Just the opposite has occurred in the last four years.

SCHULTZ: It`s been an attack, no question.

REED: No question.

SCHULTZ: Fred, what`s the game plan to turn this around? What can be done?

REDMOND: Well, first of all, we have to do exactly what the mayor said and make the case that this is not just a labor issue. This is an issue that has potential of affecting 85 million workers in the private sector around this country. So what we have to do is mobilize not just organized labor but workers around this country to make sure that they let their senators know from their respective areas that we expect to have redress through the National Labor Relations Board as we have over the last three years.

SCHULTZ: So, for workers, 2014 may be one of the biggest years ever.

REDMOND: No question. No question it`s one of the biggest years ever, but, Ed, you know, this is -- this is the epitome of the attack and attacking workers throughout this country. So we have to stand up with workers throughout this country and make sure our voices are heard.

SCHULTZ: All right, gentlemen, it`s great to have you with us. Mayor Kasim Reed --
REED: Thank you.


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