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Kline Statement: Hearing with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on “Strengthening the Economy and Improving the Lives of American Workers”

Let me begin by welcoming Secretary Solis to the committee for her first appearance since being sworn in as the U.S. Secretary of Labor a little less than a year ago. With our nation facing ongoing job losses and widespread workplace uncertainty, your presence is certainly timely, Madam Secretary.

Last week, President Obama was quite clear in declaring his Administration’s commitment to American workers and policies that will address their economic concerns. I applaud him for this focus on jobs and economic security; as policymakers, these are the priorities to which we should all be dedicated. Yet while I appreciate the President’s recognition of the economic perils facing our nation, I cannot help but question many of his proposed policies that seem to run contrary to the goal of job creation and economic certainty.

This morning I look forward to an honest assessment of the Obama Administration’s labor agenda. The American people want to know: Who are these policies designed to benefit? Who are these policies designed to harm? And above all else, how will these policies create and sustain jobs?

For example, Secretary Solis recently reaffirmed her support for the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act. We know this policy is designed to benefit labor unions, and we know it will harm small family businesses and employers struggling to stay afloat in a weak economy. But the question remains: how will “card check” create and sustain jobs?

Likewise, the Administration recently struck a deal with organized labor to exempt union health care plans from a new excise tax to pay for the government takeover of health care. We know this policy is designed to benefit labor unions, and we know a majority of American workers – those who are not members of organized labor – will be harmed by the disproportionate treatment. But again, we’re left to ask: how will special benefits for unions create and sustain jobs?

This culture of union favoritism is not limited to legislation. Within the last year, the Labor Department has undertaken a series of regulatory changes that include rolling back certain worker protections while setting the stage for broad new regulatory schemes. 

For example, shortly after President Obama took office the Labor Department rescinded new guidelines designed to increase transparency in union finances – in other words, they made it more difficult for rank-and-file workers to see how their dues are being spent. Not long after, the Department withdrew a plan to give workers access to high-quality investment advice for their 401(k) plans, making it more difficult for workers to navigate these tumultuous financial waters.

How will leaving workers in the dark create and sustain jobs?

The Administration has bogged down federal projects with union-favoring Project Labor Agreements, driving up costs for taxpayers and shutting out small construction firms. At the same time, major initiatives in the so-called stimulus package – including the weatherization program – have been delayed because of flawed Davis-Bacon wage requirements.

How will limiting opportunities for small employers while driving up costs for taxpayers create and sustain jobs?

The Labor Department is revisiting the regulatory path that led to scientifically dubious ergonomics regulations in the previous decade. At the same time, the Administration continues to call for massive investments in “green jobs” while limiting participation in these programs to union affiliates and shutting out the vast majority of the construction industry.

How will cumbersome and confusing new federal mandates and exclusionary policies create and sustain jobs?


Mr. Chairman, the issues I outlined are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the job-killing policies embraced by the Obama Administration and the majority party in Congress.

One week ago today, President Obama told the American people “jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.” He’s right, and that’s why Republicans will not allow a single workplace policy to escape our scrutiny. We will put these policies to the test, because any proposal that does not contribute to an environment for creating and sustaining jobs ought to be abandoned.

Thank you Chairman Miller, and thank you once again Madam Secretary for being here at this critical time. Although my colleagues and I had hoped to hear from you much sooner, we are hopeful today’s hearing will be the first of many.

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