Employment Law Daily Workforce committee Republicans advance NLRA ‘reform’ measures
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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Workforce committee Republicans advance NLRA ‘reform’ measures

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce cleared three bills on Thursday, June 29 that would dramatically alter federal labor law. GOP sponsors say these measures will “restore fairness and balance to federal labor policies.” The Committee, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), marked up three legislative proposals to reform the NLRA and advanced the bills in 22-16 votes.

“Over the years, the NLRB abandoned its role as an impartial referee to pander to powerful special interests,” Foxx said. “The rights of workers, employers, and Native American tribes were trampled on in the process.” The legislation advanced today seeks to remedy these concerns:

  • The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 2776), according to bill sponsor Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will “promote worker freedom and restore fairness to union elections” by rolling back the NLRB’s revised representation election procedures and recognition of “micro” bargaining units. The committee released a fact sheet on the bill.
  • The Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2775), introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), “empowers workers to control the disclosure of their personal information” by reversing policies ushered in by the Obama NLRB that afford labor unions greater access to employee contact information during union organizing campaigns. The committee released a fact sheet on the bill.
  • The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (H.R. 986), introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), would protect the sovereignty of Native American tribes from bureaucratic overreach and ensure tribes have control over their labor relations. Here, another fact sheet.

Dems denounce. Democrats on the House Workforce Committee were quick to denounce the bills which, according to Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), “sabotage workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain for better wages.” In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Scott also lambasted the GOP committee leadership for blocking a Democratic measure, the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 15) to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $15 per hour.

According to committee Democrats, the anti-union bills that cleared the committee “attack the union election process,” bar unions from receiving the same contact information to which employers are privy during union election campaigns, and require “arbitrary waiting periods that delay elections” and allow employers to gerrymander bargaining units “by adding voters who have expressed no interest in joining the union.”

As for the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, it would “strip workers of their protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) at any enterprise owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on tribal lands,” committee Democrats say.

“[S]ince Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they have convened 28 hearings and markups in the Committee aimed at undermining workers’ rights to bargain for a better life,” Scott said. “They have also refused to hold any hearings on bills to raise the minimum wage. The once bipartisan recognition of the crucial role of unions in the American economy and democracy has been replaced by relentless partisan attacks.”

Republicans on the Committee, however, were confident. “We look forward to continuing to advance much-needed reforms and rein in NLRB overreach,” Foxx said.

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