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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

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Republican Workforce Leaders Join Legal Fight Against Job-Destroying Micro-Unions

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) this week joined Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) and Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in filing an amicus brief challenging the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) micro-union decision. Senators Enzi and Isakson, along with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), previously filed a brief when the case was before the Board in December, 2010.

On August 26, 2011, the NLRB issued its decision in the Specialty Healthcare case. While the case concerned which group of employees at one health care facility would vote in a union election, the Obama board decided to discard long-standing labor policy in order to impose sweeping changes on America’s workplaces.

Under the board’s ruling, union leaders are empowered to establish so-called micro-unions nationwide. The decision makes it virtually impossible to challenge the unit of employees chosen by the union. As a result of this dramatic shift in labor policy, the nation’s workforce will experience greater division and discord that will raise an employer’s labor costs and undermine an employee’s freedom in the workplace.

As the Republican leaders state in their amicus brief:

“The Board’s authority in this area was defined by statute. When the Board creates policy that conflicts with that statute, or circumvents the legislative process, the Amici, as Members of Congress, feel they have a duty to preserve the legislative decisions that went into the statute’s creation. The [members of Congress] also believe such a major change in the law as the elimination of Section 9(c)(5) should only be made through an amendment of the statute, which is the exclusive province of Congress… Congress did not grant the Board  authority to rely upon the extent of employee organizing as the basis for determining whether a unit is appropriate for collective bargaining.”

On November 30, 2011, the House of Representatives passed with bipartisan support legislation that would reverse the NLRB’s job-destroying Specialty Healthcare decision. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094) restores the traditional standard for determining which employees will vote in the union election, reinstating a standard that was developed through years of careful consideration and Congressional guidance.

The legal brief was filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in the case entitled, Kindred Nursing Centers East vs. National Labor Relations Board.

The amicus brief can be viewed here.

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