The Europeanization of U.S. Labor Law

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday about the spate of union-backed legislation being pushed in Congress, bills that would transform the dynamic U.S. labor market into the ossified, high-unemployment, government-dominated labor market of Europe. (His remarks start on page S5733).

Pending legislation in Congress sponsored by the change agents would more closely conform America’s labor and employment laws to the failed European model which has saddled the French and Germans with 30 years of higher unemployment, stagnant job growth, and lower productivity. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said workplace regulations in France are “unjust, discourage work and job creation,” and “fail to bring equal opportunity” to the middle class. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for reform of Germany’s labor regulations for the same reasons.

 At a time when leaders in France and Germany are trying to reform their workplace laws and move closer to the U.S. system, do we really want to infect our country with European-style workplace regulations that could cost middle class jobs and curtail economic growth? Do we really want to become another France?

C’est une domage, but the answer is, oui, there are many elected officials who do want to turn the United States into France…save for the nuclear power.

Hatch ticks off the horrible pieces of legislation one-by-one, the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act; the misnamed RESPECT ACT, which would reclassify supervisors to expand union ranks; and the wrench-in-the-works Working Families Flexibility Act, which would let employees dictate the terms of their workweek or file government complaints if denied. Among others…

For centuries, people from all over the world have been drawn to the United States for economic opportunity. While the unions and some in Congress believe that European-style labor law is what is best for workers, leaders in France and Germany know better. They understand that regulatory economic rigidities that hold out the false hope of job security often limits workers’ options for finding better opportunities, makes it harder for the unemployed to find work, and discourages entrepreneurs from creating new middle class jobs. Congress cannot mandate that employers create jobs, stay in business, or even that they do not conduct business elsewhere. But in the name of change, ostensibly to help the middle class, Congress can mandate the types of harmful employment regulations that will reduce or even eliminate middle class jobs in the United States.

 “Europeanization” of U.S. labor and employment laws is not the type of change the middle class really needs.


And many thanks to Senator Hatch for painting the big picture so accurately. 

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