The Washington Post noted today that House Republicans “are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth.” This effort is part of the GOP’s supposed jobs agenda, which, as Center for American Progress economist Adam Hersh wrote last week, is much more myth than reality-based.
“Across the board, the Republican ‘jobs agenda’ reduces demand, undermines middle class families, blocks development of renewable energy industries, and recreates the possibility of future financial crises,” Hersh wrote. And the GOP’s “jobs agenda” also continues the Republican assault on organized labor, with two of the “Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations” identified in a memo by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) targeting rules having to do with unionization:
– NLRB’s Boeing Ruling (Week of September 12): On April 20, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against The Boeing Company for the alleged transfer of an assembly line from Washington to South Carolina. Yet, not one union employee at Boeing’s Puget Sound facility has lost his or her job as a result of the proposed South Carolina plant. Still, the NLRB is pursuing a “restoration order” against Boeing that would cost South Carolina thousands of jobs and deter future investment in the United States. H.R. 2587, the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Scott (SC), would take the common sense step of preventing the NLRB from restricting where an employer can create jobs in the United States. [...]
– NLRB’s Ambush Elections (Winter): This summer, the NLRB issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that could significantly alter current union representation election procedures, giving both employers and employees little time to react to union formations in the future. The result will increase labor costs and uncertainty for nearly all private employers in the U.S. The House will soon consider legislation that will bring common sense to union organizing procedures to protect the interests of both employers and their workers.
It’s clear from the inclusion of these two “regulations” on the list that the GOP is more interested in further undermining the ability of workers to organize than in doing anything for job creation. The first, for instance, isn’t so much a regulation as a federal agency applying a law — in this case, the National Labor Relations Act. As Dalia Lithwick wrote in Slate, “There is ample precedent for the argument that threatening to move facilities because of strikes is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. And certainly the NLRB might reasonably have taken a Boeing executive at his word when he told the Seattle Times (on video!) that this was precisely what motivated the relocation.” Enabling companies to move facilities whenever workers threaten a strike won’t boost job creation, but merely ensure that workers have one fewer tool to use against recalcitrant employers.
The “ambush elections” regulation, meanwhile, merely ensures that employers cannot endlessly delay union organizing elections. At the moment, “35 percent of all union elections are called off in the face of endless delays and often illegal employer opposition according to research by John-Paul Ferguson of Stanford Business School.” The regulation helps to ensure that workers who want to organize have a fairer shot at doing so.
Neither of these GOP measures will do a thing for job creation, but they will push unionization rates even lower, even though falling rates of unionization are correlated with plummeting middle-class incomes and skyrocketing income inequality.
Igor Volsky looks at Cantor’s regulation list and its effect on health care reform.