A lot of attention has, deservedly, been focused upon the Republican governors — including Govs. Scott Walker (WI), John Kasich (OH), and Terry Branstad (IA) — who are trying to legislatively bust unions by removing the right of public sector workers to collectively bargain. But Republicans in Congress are by no means staying out of the union-busting game.
– TAKING THE DEMOCRACY OUT OF UNION ELECTIONS: Last year, the National Mediation Board did away with an absurd rule that, for union elections under the Railway Labor Act, counted workers who didn’t vote as having voted against unionization. House Republicans are using legislation that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to try and reverse the board’s ruling, once against counting absent workers as votes against the union.
– CUTTING THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD: The continuing resolution passed by House Republicans includes a $50 million reduction in the National Labor Relations Board’s budget. The NLRB is tasked with overseeing management-labor relations under the National Labor Relations Act, and with issuing rulings regarding labor-related law and regulations. If the House GOP’s spending cuts are enacted, all NLRB staff members will have to be furloughed for 55 days, causing a backlog of cases to pile up.
– KEEPING FEDEX DRIVERS DOWN: Last year’s FAA reauthorization bill (which never passed) corrected an inequity in labor law that allows FedEx to prevent its drivers from unionizing. FedEx CEO Fred Smith — who was George W. Bush’s fraternity brother and has said that “I don’t intend to recognize any unions at Federal Express” — intensely lobbied against the provision, and House Republicans dutifully stripped it from this year’s FAA bill.
– PREVENTING TSA FROM UNIONIZING: Senate Republicans, during the debate over the Senate’s version of the FAA bill, attempted to attach an amendment that would block workers at the Transportation Security Administration from unionizing. That amendment was defeated and TSA employees begin voting in their unionization campaign tomorrow.
– NATIONAL “RIGHT TO WORK”: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), joined by seven other Republican senators, introduced legislation today implementing so-called “right to work” at the federal level. Right to work laws allow workers to free-ride on union contracts without supporting the union, and weaken the bargaining rights of all workers, preventing them from receiving their fair share of productivity gains.
– CRANKING ABOUT CRAIG BECKER: President Obama last month renominated Craig Becker to the NLRB, prompting an outcry from all Senate Republicans. Becker is currently serving on the NLRB as a recess appointment, after Senate Republicans blocked his original nomination on the grounds that Becker once worked for labor unions.
At the state level, legislative union-busting has prompted a Main Street Movement to come together and stand up for workers and the middle-class. But will Republicans at the federal level take heed?