WASHINGTON, D.C. | November 10, 2011 -
Based on the latest unemployment report, it is clear our economy is growing at an extremely sluggish pace. Employers’ efforts to create new jobs continue to be undermined by threats of higher taxes, more federal spending, and new bureaucratic regulations.
In the face of such adversity, it’s no wonder many employers choose to remain on the sidelines, postponing plans to hire new workers or invest in their businesses. Republicans are determined to put an end to the uncertainty drowning the American workforce, which is why we’re fighting to rein in President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board.
In recent months, the board has unleashed a blizzard of regulatory decisions that weaken our workplaces. Perhaps the most notorious example of the NLRB’s activism is its legal battle against Boeing, which led House Republicans to advance legislation to prevent the NLRB from dictating the location of American jobs.
While not as well-known as the fight against Boeing, the board’s effort to rush union elections is no less devastating. Under a proposed regulation released in June, union elections could be held as little as 10 days from the filing of an election petition. The board achieves this feat of speed by trampling on long-standing workforce protections.
The board’s scheme would give employers just seven days to find legal representation before being forced to appear in front of an NLRB election officer, and opportunities to raise additional legal concerns after this point would be largely denied. Most employers can’t possibly grapple with the complexities of federal labor law in just one week.
For workers, the question of union representation can be a difficult one to answer. The decision to join a union affects the labor decisions of a workplace for years. The board’s proposal denies workers the time they need to hear from both sides and make a fully informed decision.
No one should restrict employers’ free speech or undermine workers’ free choice, yet these are the consequences of the board’s radical proposal. As one former member of the NLRB testified, this is a transparent attempt to circumvent the will of Congress after it refused to endorse Big Labor’s failed agenda.
In an effort to put a stop to the board’s reckless policies, my Republican colleagues and I introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. Among a number of important provisions, the bill stipulates no union election can be held in less than 35 days and issues that can sway an employee’s vote must be addressed before the election. Additionally, an employer has at least 14 days to prepare his or her legal case and is free to raise relevant concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
It is difficult to imagine anyone opposing legislation that reaffirms the legal rights workers and employers have received for decades. Sadly, that is precisely what Democrats in Washington are trying to do.
They claim the bill will prevent union elections despite the fact that the legislation merely provides workers with the time and information they need before casting a ballot. Democrats also falsely argue the legislation will lead to frivolous delays by employers.
I don’t hold this cynical view. I believe the vast majority of employers want to do the right thing. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act protects employers’ ability to follow the law and provide critical information to their employees.
Too busy promoting rhetoric detached from reality, Democrats have failed to offer any real solutions to help put people back to work. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act is not a silver bullet, but it does remove an obstacle standing in the way of a stronger and more competitive workforce.
In fact, the bill is a key component of Republican efforts to end the uncertainty facing job creators. The House of Representatives has already passed 22 legislative proposals that remove bureaucratic hurdles to economic growth and opportunity. Unfortunately, these important proposals are now stalled in the Democrat-led Senate.
We can’t wait for Democrats to stand up for the American people and oppose the extreme agenda of their union allies. It is time Democrats in Washington stopped saying no to solutions that will help get our economy moving again. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act is responsible reform that deserves support from members on both sides of the aisle.
Rep. John Kline represents Minnesota’s second congressional district, and serves as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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