WASHINGTON — Rep. John Kline’s new bill to overturn a National Labor Relations Board ruling allowing quicker union elections is “downright shameful” and a piece of “anti-worker” legislation, the president of the AFL-CIO said on Thursday.
Kline’s bill, which he introduced Wednesday, would block the implementation of a June ruling from the NLRB permitting union elections to take place 10 days after workers request one. His bill would require 35 days before a vote.
On Thursday, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said the bill is the Republicans’ “latest attempt to strip workers of their rights and stop fairness in the workplace” in favor of big business.
“Rep. Kline and anyone who supports his anti-worker bill should take a moment to listen to the people [protesting] on Wall Street – not the CEOs or hedge fund managers, but rather the people standing together to protest,” he said in a statement. “What they’ll hear is a call for action to create good jobs and end the inequalities caused by corporate greed and economic injustice.”
Kline laughed off the criticism on Wednesday.
“Our view is that it’s pro-worker,” he said in an interview. “We’re trying to get people back to work. These kinds of rulings get in the way of that.”
The NLRB’s ruling would limit companies’ ability to present the case against unionization to its employees, Kline said.
“It denies employees the chance to hear both sides and make an informed decision,” he said. “That’s way, way too fast … this is terrible, terrible policy and it’s being done without Congressional action.”
The new legislation is the latest in a string of Republican bills meant to reduce government regulations to provide more stability for employers to hire new workers. It’s also the second bill in the series directed at curtailing the power of the NLRB.
In September, the House passed legislation prohibiting the NRLB from “ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.” The bill was inspired by an NLRB complaint against Boeing that the airline manufacturer moved jobs to South Carolina to punish its unionized workers in Washington state.
Lawmakers are at an impasse over how to best solve the country’s jobs crisis. Obama and many Democrats want to pass a stimulus measure relying on increased government spending on construction, infrastructure and education measures, paying for it with an increase in taxes on large companies and wealthy Americans. Republicans vehemently oppose much of Obama’s plan, and Democrats are averse to supporting the Republican repeal agenda, saying it’s designed to benefit corporations and wealthy Americans.
“One of our views is, you have so many regulations … that it is adding to the uncertainty (for employers),” Kline said. “Employers are refusing to expand and hire because there is so much uncertainty. Part of that is the regulatory onslaught that is coming down that has them whipping their heads side to side … These rulings by the NLRB are especially egregious. The rushing of the union elections, the ambush elections, is an example of something we’re trying to get at and fix.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.