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Moving in the Right Direction

Leadership & Results Part 5: Fighting for the Rights of Workers and Employers

Under the leadership of Chairman John Kline (R-MN), the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been working hard on behalf of students, small business owners, teachers, and working families. And by improving education, retirement, job training, and more, the committee has delivered impressive results. This is the fifth in a series of releases that will look back at some important reforms the committee has advanced under Chairman Kline’s leadership—reforms that will help more Americans pursue a lifetime of success and prosperity.

Chairman Kline and GOP leaders stand with small businesses at a press conference highlighting the importance of the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act in September 2015.

In recent years, America’s workers have endured an anemic economy, rising health care costs, stagnant wages, and fewer opportunities to get ahead. Unfortunately, instead of working with Congress on a set of pro-growth reforms to address these challenges, the administration and an activist National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have advanced the interests of powerful union leaders and pushed politically-motivated regulatory schemes.

It was clear the administration’s labor agenda was taking a radical turn when the NLRB tried to dictate where an American employer could and could not create jobs, threatening thousands of good-paying jobs in the process. But the Committee on Education and the Workforce worked to ensure the board’s action wasn’t left unchecked. As the New York Times highlighted in 2011:

The House voted on Thursday to approve a Republican-backed bill that would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from trying to block Boeing from operating a new $750 million aircraft assembly line in South Carolina … Republicans denounced the labor board’s case against Boeing, asserting the board was overreaching its authority and should not be dictating where companies can locate their operations.

In addition to advancing legislation to block the board’s extreme overreach, the committee held hearings and led aggressive oversight efforts. But the Obama NLRB was just getting warmed up for an all-out assault on the rights of workers and employers, including:

  • An “ambush” election rule that chills employer free speech, cripples worker free choice, and jeopardizes the privacy of workers and their families;

  • A micro-union scheme that empowers union bosses to gerrymander workplaces and schools, tying employers up in union red tape and stifling the ability of workers and students to advance their careers; and

  • A partisan “joint employer” decision that restricts the ability of many small business owners to run their businesses and makes it harder for others to pursue the American Dream.

In the words of Chairman Kline:

The NLRB’s assault on American workers and job creators is undermining our nation’s ability to grow and prosper. Congress cannot stand by and allow an unelected board to wreak havoc on our workforce. We must stand up and do the job we were sent here to do.

That’s exactly what committee Republicans did—the job they were sent to Washington to do. The committee held numerous hearings to examine the harmful consequences of the NLRB’s actions. The House voted to protect worker free choice and block the “ambush” election rule. Policymakers worked to roll back the micro-union scheme and approved legislation to stop the joint employer attack from destroying small businesses.

At the same time, workers and employers were taking hits from the pro-union Department of Labor. Congress stepped in to protect workers, students, small businesses, and nonprofits from a fundamentally flawed overtime rule. And Republicans stood up for the rights of workers and employers threatened by a partisan persuader rule that was later blocked by a federal judge on the grounds it was unconstitutional.

Oversight efforts like these play an important role in exposing government overreach and holding Washington accountable. And they are part of Republicans’ commitment to ensure fair labor policies are in place and protect the rights of those working hard to earn a paycheck and provide for their families. As the Chairman has said from the beginning: We cannot stand by.

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