Byrne Statement: Hearing on H.J. Res. 29, Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2015
We are here today to discuss House Joint Resolution 29, which provides for Congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the National Labor Relations Board’s recently released rule that would drastically affect long-standing policies governing union elections.
For those members who served on the committee in previous congresses, our discussion today may elicit a dreadful sense of déjà vu. That’s because for nearly four years, the Obama National Labor Relations Board has sought to radically alter long-standing policies governing union elections, and as the Board pursued this misguided effort, House Republicans, led by this committee, have consistently fought to defend the rights of America’s workers and job creators.
The stated purpose of the board’s rule is to shorten the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date. The Board achieves this in a number of troubling ways, such as limiting the opportunity for a full and fair hearing of issues that may arise during the election proceedings and denying parties an opportunity to raise certain contested issues to the Board. The Board’s rule also grants union organizers unprecedented access to employees’ personal information.
These are by no means modest changes and they go far beyond simply “modernizing” the election process. In truth, the Board’s real goal is to dramatically tilt the outcome of elections in favor of union leaders by ambushing employers and workers without allowing them to fully understand their decision. The American people are on the losing end of the Board’s extreme culture of union favoritism.
The Board’s rule eviscerates the right of employers to speak freely to employees during an organizing campaign. Roughly 70 years ago, Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to ensure employers have an opportunity to communicate with employees about union representation. Congress took this action not only to promote the voices of employers, but also to protect employee choice through a robust debate of important issues. The Board is overturning, by executive fiat, what Congress has expressly permitted by law.
The Board’s rule also severely cripples the right of each worker to make an informed decision. Deciding whether or not to join a union is a deeply personal choice. The outcome of that choice will affect workers’ wages, benefits, and other employment concerns for years. Workers deserve an opportunity to get the facts and discuss these matters with friends, family members, coworkers, and yes, employers too. Under this administration, the National Labor Relations Board is determined to deny workers this fundamental right.
Finally, adding insult to injury, the Board is placing the privacy and safety of America’s workers and their families in jeopardy. There is absolutely no reason why union organizers need employees’ phone numbers, email addresses, work schedules, and home addresses. Union coercion and intimidation is real and it is our responsibility to help stop it.
It is for these reasons this resolution is so urgently needed. In the past, Congress has tried offering a legislative response to the Board’s ambush election rule, one that would ensure workers, employers, and unions continue to enjoy protections that have been in place for decades. I want to thank Chairman Kline for his continued leadership in this area. Unfortunately, our Democrat colleagues in the Senate refused to stand with us.
However, I am hopeful with new allies in the Senate and the authority vested in Congress through the Congressional Review Act, we will send to the president a resolution that reins in this activist board and rolls back this destructive regulatory scheme. The president will then have to decide whether he stands with Big Labor, or with the nation’s workers and job creators. I urge the president and every member of Congress to choose the latter by supporting H.J. Res. 29.
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