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Congress Recognizes Importance of All American Workers‬‪‬‪

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | One Comment

America’s high-skilled manufacturing workforce is one of the most important contributors to our economy, producing 1/8 of the  nation’s GDP. Through their hard work, manufacturing workers in the U.S. make over 1/5 of all things made on the planet. This dynamic workforce includes employees who are represented by labor unions and those that are not.‪

This week marks the start of the 112th Congress, and the Committee that has jurisdiction over issues facing American workers begins with a new name – the Committee on Education and Workforce. Government institutions including cabinet agencies and Congressional Committees often change names to reflect changing dynamics and priorities: the Department of War is now the Department of Defense, the House Committee on Banking and Currency is now the House Committee on Financial Services, etc.‪

It is fitting the House Committee with jurisdiction over issues facing American workers will have a new name – the House Committee on Education and Workforce. It is true that historically that Committee had been named the Committee on Education and Labor, with the exception of brief periods of time when it was referred to differently.

This latest renaming indicates that the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), intends to focus on all workers in the economy and not just the 12.3 percent of American workers (and only 7.2 percent of private sector workers) who are members of labor unions.

Labor Board Proposes New Posting Requirement

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | 5 Comments

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today released a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require employers to post a notice to employees informing them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Such a concept follows the recent move by the Obama Administration to require a similar posting for the employees for federal contractors.

In its proposal, the Board indicated that a majority believes that “many employees protected by the NLRA are unaware of their rights.” Brian Hayes, the lone Republican who serves on the Board, dissented from the proposal, arguing that the Board lacks the authority to impose such a requirement on employers. Hayes contends NLRB can only require such a posting after a finding of an unfair labor practice by an employer.

However, this notice for proposed rulemaking goes beyond just requiring employers to post a poster in their workplace, as they are required to do under other employment laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Should this proposal be enacted as drafted, employers who communicate with their employees through web and e-mail would also be required to transmit this new posting of employee rights electronically.

We’ve long been troubled by and have predicted the NLRB’s intention to reinterpret U.S. labor law outside of Congress’ purview in order to expand union membership. Today’s announcement is certainly evidence that the board is well under way.

Union Leaders: Still Out of Touch with Union Members

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | No Comments

Union bosses are spending a fortune this election cycle to support candidates who have pledged to advance the “union agenda,” which contains many proposals that would be devastating to the economy. However, the media reports, this same level of enthusiasm just isn’t shared by the union members whom the union leaders claim to represent. There is growing sentiment that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have not delivered for working families and have not done enough to revive the economy. Well, in many ways we agree. Many of the proposals that have come out of Congress have actually hindered economic growth, such as: allowing the EPA to run roughshod with its regulations, passing the Ledbetter Bill and expanding government – but not controlling costs – through the health care legislation

Union leadership has already shown itself out of touch with what union members want: Above all, it’s jobs. Officials with Big Labor have waged a full-scale battle in support of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act, when most union families disagreed with the provisions of the bill, specifically the effective elimination of secret ballots. At the recent “One Nation” rally, union leaders associated their organizations not with the working man or woman, but with the hard-core political left on issues involving social policy and support for the military.

Here at the National Association of Manufacturers we’ve encouraged candidates and Members of Congress from all parties to rally together for a strategy to support manufacturing jobs – something employers and employees both can get behind. We hope that this election day will serve as a wake up call for union leaders and policy makers alike: We need to work together to strengthen our economy and develop policies that help employers create and retain jobs.

No Time for Vote on Tax Rates, but to Restrict Political Speech, Sure!

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions | No Comments

UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): The National Association of Manufacturers this morning against sent our “Key Vote” letter opposing
S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act, to the U.S. Senate. The letter was initially distributed in July with the first Senate vote on the bill. …

The Hill, “Dems plan last-ditch vote on Disclose Act“:

Democrats plan to rally their troops for the final stretch of the campaign season by bringing up a campaign-finance transparency bill.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) on Tuesday announced plans for a last-ditch vote on the measure, dubbed the Disclose Act. A vote on the bill is expected Thursday.

Politico, Ben Smith writing on Tuesday, “DISCLOSE vote will wait for high-dollar fundraiser

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just scheduled a vote on the DISCLOSE Act, which would force donors to publish their involvement in political ad campaigns, for Thursday.

Why not tomorrow [Wednesday], you might ask? Because there are no votes in the Senate scheduled for tomorrow. And that may be, in part, because there’s something else going on tomorrow: A big New York fundraiser for the Senate Democrats.

“I would be honored if you would join me for a very special reception with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in New York. We have a limited numbers of tickets available to our general reception. If you would like to join us, please contact …[redacted]@dscc.org.”

Surprised the vote wasn’t scheduled as part of the Defense authorization debate.
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Next OMB Head Told to Watch the ‘High Road’

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | No Comments

President Obama’s nominee to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob Lew, went before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for a confirmation hearing today, and the discussions turned to federal contracting. The committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, raised several questions and objections to an Obama Administration’s initiative that goes by the misleading name, “High Road Contracting Policy.”

As legislative prospects for union leaders’ agenda on Capitol Hill wane, the Obama Administration looks to enact organized labor’s agenda through executive actions. This so-called “High Road” contracting policy is a good example, because it could give unionized businesses an advantage over non-union businesses even if their bids came in as more expensive.

The policy would accomplish that goal by awarding federal contracts on the basis of factors unrelated to the best value proposition of bids. The way it’s being developed suggests the Administration wants to circumvent Congress by issuing an Executive Order that builds on the Clinton-era government contracting “blacklisting” effort. Indications are that the “High Road Contracting Policy” may establish a new system of mandatory employment standards for companies to compete for federal contracts, prohibit companies from seeking federal contracts if they face allegations of employment law violations – an allegation would be enough – and to create additional barriers to small businesses that seek government contracts.

Responding to Sen. Collins, Lew said he was unaware of any such policy. The Senator said she had serious concerns with any proposal that would put small business at a disadvantage in seeking federal contracts. More importantly, the Senator warned Lew that such a policy should not be implemented through executive fiat, but would require Congressional approval. In response, Mr. Lew reaffirmed his commitment to fair competition and federal contracting opportunities for small business.

We hope that the Obama Administration heed Senator Collins’ warning, recognize the flaws in such a policy and abandon any effort to develop such a misguided proposal.

Union Popularity Still Slipping

By | Economy, Labor Unions | No Comments

A new Gallup survey reveals, “U.S. Approval of Labor Unions Remains Near Record Low,” with a topline finding that only 52 percent of Americans approve of unions, the second lowest percentage in the 70 years the organization has studied the issue.

Another striking result: Forty percent of Americans want labor unions to have less influence, 27 percent the same, and 29 percent more.

Gallup finds these implications:

Labor unions are less popular now in the United States than they have been for most of the last 70 years. One reason for this could be the economic downturn. With many Americans out of work and struggling to find work, organized labor groups’ missions may not seem appropriate or even fair as they might have when jobs are more plentiful. There is some precedence for an economic-related downturn in union approval, as Gallup found a mild drop in union approval during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the U.S. economy was in poor shape.

The more negative appraisal of unions the last two years could be due to the belief from union opponents that unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration, including recent legislation providing aid to states that will preserve thousands of education and public sector jobs.

You don’t really have to be a union opponent to believe that “unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration.” You can reasonably draw that conclusion from reading President Obama’s recent speech to the AFL-CIO executive council.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit)

Card Check: What Were They Chatting About?

By | Labor Unions, Media Relations | No Comments

Why Mickey Kaus is such a valuable commentator: Who else would have thought to connect the Employee Free Choice Act to the Journolist scandalette?

From Kaus’s post, “Journolist–The Careerist Antidote to Neolib Contrarianism“:

Here’s a crude test: In this group of 400 “center to left” writers, did even one agree with George McGovern about keeping the secret ballot in union elections? If they agreed, did they dare say they agreed?

DISCLOSE: The NAM’s Key Vote Letter, Again

By | First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions, Regulations | No Comments

The responsible staff at the National Association of Manufacturers have reviewed the manager’s amendment to H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, and concluded that the latest version of the bill just worsens the legislation’s already unconstitutional restrictions on speech. The previous Key Vote letter opposing H.R. 5175 stands:

Put simply, this legislation threatens First Amendment freedoms and is a direct assault on the U.S. Constitution. Its purpose is to hinder groups, including associations such as the NAM, which give voice to their members’ views and priorities. The Supreme Court repeatedly has recognized that voluntary associations are key participants in the public debate, and that government’s attempts to curb participation in associations in order to stifle their voice in the public debate violate the First Amendment. There need be no further discussion on whether First Amendment freedoms should apply to some and not to others.

As drafted, H.R. 5175 would curb the First Amendment rights of many corporations that regularly participate in contracts with the federal government or have limited foreign ownership or control. We believe the bill’s disclosure provisions could easily be used to create “political enemies” lists or to promote “boycotts” – all aimed at chilling companies’ legitimate advocacy activities. It is unconscionable that these same First Amendment restrictions do not apply equally to unions representing government workers or unions with foreign members or directors.

Key Vote letters are used to rate a member of Congress’ record on manufacturing issues.

Your correspondent intends to Tweet the House debate on the rule and H.R. 5175 @Shopfloor_NAM, using the #DISCLOSE hashtag. House convenes at 10 a.m.

DISCLOSE: What About the Unions, III?

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions | One Comment

The Center for Competitive Politics passes on some important analysis from House staffers about H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act.

The Manager’s Amendment to the DISCLOSE Act, slated for a Thursday floor vote in the House, seems to contain a glaring carve out for the benefit of labor unions, according to a quick analysis by House Administration Committee staff.

The Brady amendment would exempt from reporting requirements transfers between affiliated entities up to $50,000 (p. 10). Even more beneficial to labor unions the bill now reads that if the transferred amount is attributable to individual dues paid on a regular basis then the transfer amount is attributable to the individual rather than the organization (p. 14-15). The average amount of individual, annual dues ($377) is well below the bill’s threshold of $600 for mandated disclosure.

So, in effect, unions would be able to shift unlimited amounts of money around through various affiliated entities and never have to report or disclose any of it. The definition of “affiliate” includes two organizations that are affiliated with the same organization, so the shell game possibilities are endless.

Don’t believe the acronym, the bill is about loopholes and special treatment for politically favored groups.

More from The Daily Caller:

House Democratic leadership is aiming to pass its campaign spending bill on Thursday, while Democrats are defending it from criticism that it includes loopholes for special interests.

The Daily Caller reported Monday that the legislation, called the DISCLOSE Act, shields labor unions from many of its requirements.

For example, restrictions on companies that received government bailouts during the financial crisis apply to businesses, but not unions: Under the DISCLOSE Act, General Motors can’t tell you who to vote for, but the United Auto Workers union can.

Despite heavy pressure from labor unions, supporters have not been able to force the Employee Free Choice Act through Congress this year. Hell of a fall-back position to mollify labor: We’ll limit speech in all federal elections, not just union ones.

UPDATE (12:05 p.m.): More from the Center for Competitive Politics. The lefty Mother Jones publication reported AFSCME’s obviously successful efforts to win this exemption last week:

Mother Jones: “Labor, Guns, and Money”
June 17
AFSCME is trying to exempt state and local political organizations that accept soft money—that is, unrestricted contributions from individuals or groups—from being regulated under the bill. Under the DISCLOSE Act, such groups, which often receive union backing, would have to disclose their donors if their campaign ads reference a federal candidate. AFSCME opposes having to out itself as the backer of these state and local campaign efforts. “The problem is that we have local union affiliates—we have 4000 of them—that could make a contribution to one of these entities…which could trigger these very detailed disclosure requirements,” said Loveless. He said that AFSCME was “trying to protect these local affiliates” from having to make such disclosures.

DISCLOSE: What About the Unions, II?

By | Briefly Legal, First Amendment and Lobbying, Labor Unions, Regulations | No Comments

When the House debates H.R. 5175, DISCLOSE Act, today, there will be no consideration of amendments to hold labor unions to the same limits on speech the legislation applies to corporation, thanks to votes taken Wednesday by the House Rules Committee.

The committee’s report summarizes the blocked amendments:

Rules Committee record vote No. 454

Date: June 23, 2010.

Measure: H.R. 5175.

Motion by: Dr. Foxx.

Summary of motion: To make in order and provide appropriate waivers for an amendment by Rep. Lungren (CA), #16, which would provide that the labor unions must certify no dues were received from foreign nationals prior to making political expenditures.

Results: Defeated 2-7.

Vote by Members: McGovern–Nay; Hastings (FL)–Nay; Matsui–Nay; Perlmutter–Nay; Pingree–Nay; Polis–Nay; Dreier–Yea; Foxx–Yea; Slaughter–Nay.

Rules Committee record vote No. 455

Date: June 23, 2010.

Measure: H.R. 5175.

Motion by: Dr. Foxx.

Summary of motion: To make in order and provide appropriate waivers for an amendment by Rep. Lungren (CA) and Rep. Gingrey (GA), #17, which would provide that the prohibition on expenditures by government contractors shall also apply to labor unions representing employees of those contractors.

Results: Defeated 2-7. Read More