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New Ranking Member On Ed And Labor Committee Continually Acts Against Workers And Students

By Pat Garofalo  

"New Ranking Member On Ed And Labor Committee Continually Acts Against Workers And Students"

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Rep. John Kline (R-MN)

Rep. John Kline (R-MN)

Yesterday, the Republican Steering Committee designated Rep. John Kline (R-MN) as the new ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee. Kline is replacing Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), who’s taking up the role of ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

According to the Duluth News-Tribune, “issues in front of the [Ed and Labor] committee are not those Kline ran on when he got into politics…But he said that in his four two-year terms he has gained education and labor experience.” Well, here’s some of what that experience had led him to do:

– He voted against a minimum wage increase three different times in 2007.

– He voted against lowering interest rates for student borrowers enrolled in the Federal Family Education Loan and Direct Loan programs.

– He voted against the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act.

– He introduced the Secret Ballot Protection Act, which would “prohibit a union from being recognized” through a majority sign-up process.

– He supported “some system of personal accounts” as “a central component” of Social Security reform.

The National Education Association actually gave Kline an F grade for both 2007 and 2008.

According to the St. Paul-Minneapolis Star Tribune, “in his new role, Kline will be expected to be a leading GOP combatant” against the Employee Free Choice Act. But with his Secret Ballot Protection Act, Kline revealed that he has no idea how union drives even work. He advocated taking the majority sign-up option away from workers, even though, since 2003, half a million workers have organized in this fashion, including employees at AT&T, UPS and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Kline, as he laid out in this Washington Times op-ed, is very concerned with the “coercion, intimidation and bullying” of union organizers (even though there is no evidence that this occurs in states that allow majority sign-up), but he doesn’t spare a word for the coercive and punitive tactics that employers use to prevent employees from unionizing. Instead of leveling the playing field for workers, Kline would simply prefer preserving the anti-worker status quo.

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