WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 21, 2011
We are here to consider H.R. 2587, the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act. In an effort to strengthen the competitiveness of our workforce and help keep jobs here in the United States, the legislation prevents the National Labor Relations Board from dictating where an employer can and cannot create jobs.
On April 20, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against The Boeing Company. The complaint alleges Boeing executives punished union workers in Washington when they decided to build 787 Dreamliner jets in South Carolina. Despite investing $1 billion in the South Carolina economy and creating jobs for thousands of workers, the NLRB’s complaint may force this private company to close its Charleston operations.
The facts of the case are in dispute, but one thing is disturbingly clear: If the NLRB is successful, businesses across the country and abroad will rethink how they invest in our economy. The president’s nominee to run the Commerce Department, John Bryson, a former member of the Boeing board, recently noted the leadership at Boeing thought they were doing the right thing on behalf of our country, and never once thought of placing this new work overseas.
And that is what is at stake in this debate. Every day, employers must consider an array of difficult questions as they look to expand their businesses. No one should threaten a worker for exercising his or her rights under the law. Like any company, if it is determined Boeing broke the law, they should be held accountable. However, punishing workers for the unlawful action of an employer is simply unconscionable. Creating an environment hostile to American job creation at a time when 14 million workers are unemployed is unacceptable. We simply cannot allow federal bureaucrats to reverse the business decisions of employers.
As I noted at a previous hearing on the NLRB, Congress cannot be a willing accomplice in policies that stifle investment and undermine job growth. The public did not elect 535 idle spectators; they sent men and women to Washington with a mandate to make jobs a national priority. To some, this is just one board enforcing a largely unknown rule against a single company. But that understates reality. The decisions of the NLRB govern virtually every private workplace. Make no mistake: its action against Boeing has sent a shockwave across the country at a time when many employers are still struggling with the lingering effects of the recent recession.
Despite the rhetoric of my Democrat colleagues, this legislation will not send jobs overseas. To the contrary, it prevents an NLRB effort that is making the economies of our foreign competitors more inviting. In fact, former board chairman Peter Schaumber has reported that leading Canadian employers expressed real concerns about doing business in the United States as a result of the Boeing case. Why risk the success of your business and the livelihood of your workers when you can avoid the reach of the NLRB by going overseas? The legislation we consider today will force the labor board to change course, providing employers with the certainty they need to put Americans back to work, right here at home.
No doubt we’ll hear a number of scary scenarios today. It is important to note that this legislation does not leave workers defenseless against the unlawful actions of employers. The NLRB has at its disposal a host of tough remedies for holding employers accountable for breaking the law. These remedies include awarding back pay and giving workers who lost their jobs at the old facility first priority for jobs at the new facility. The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act simply says that forcing a business to close its doors and lay off its employees is not an acceptable remedy for our workforce.
Across the country, the American people are asking: Are their elected leaders in Washington doing everything possible to stimulate economic growth? Are we getting out of the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to invest in our country and create opportunity for workers and their families? Are we tearing down old roadblocks to new jobs?
I don’t believe all the solutions rest here in the nation’s capital. The strength and ingenuity of the American people will pull us out of these tough times and set us back on the path to prosperity. Washington can either support that effort, or undermine it. We can either promote sensible rules of the road that protect workers and encourage growth, or we can second guess the decisions of employers. Congress can step up and do its job, or sit on the sidelines and allow federal policies to undermine the strength of the American workforce. I urge the committee to do the job we were sent here to do. I urge my colleagues to support the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act.