Senate HELP Committee Archives - Shopfloor

Goal of NLRB Complaint against Boeing, Neutrality Agreement?

By | Briefly Legal, General, Labor Unions | One Comment

In promoting his new online column, “The Persecution of Boeing,” National Review Editor Rich Lowry commented in NRO’s The Corner blog:

The NLRB is on very tenuous ground here and will almost certainly lose in court. But one expert in these matters was telling me yesterday he wouldn’t be surprised if the game is to try to harass Boeing into agreeing to some sort of card check-like process to unionize the South Carolina facility.

That would consistent with our observation in the May 10 post, “NLRB Already Talking About ‘Settlement’ in Boeing Case.”

The term of art is a “neutrality agreement,” in which a company agrees with a labor union not to request a secret-ballot election if the union attempts to organize a facility. Often management goes that route after suffering a corporate campaign (or threat of a corporate campaign) in which the union blackens the reputations of the company and its executives.

But in this case, it’s the National Labor Relations Board leading the corporate campaign in support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The strategy make sense politically: Attack the critics, pummel the opposition into staying quiet. You can see it being played out in Congress, too. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), evoked the Founding Fathers and “checks and balances” into decrying any criticism of the NLRB. From The Congressional Record:

This kind of interference is inappropriate, it is disgraceful and dangerous.We wouldn’t allow threats to prosecutors or U.S. attorneys trying to stop them from moving forward with charges they see fit to bring to the courts, and we shouldn’t stand for this. It may not be illegal, but it is no better than the retaliation and intimidation that is the fundamental question in this case, and it should stop.

The Founders are telling critics of the NLRB to shut up? Well, in this case, it’s Congress and the states in the form of attorneys general that are providing the checks and balances to restrain a runaway federal agency.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) followed up Wednesday on the Senate floor, arguing in effect that the NLRB should be above criticism because it is an independent Executive Branch agency. The Senator conceded he did not know all the facts of the case, but knocked Boeing around and made the union’s arguments. He then declared: Read More

Paycheck Fairness Act Would Have a Chilling Effect on Job Creation

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources, Labor Unions | No Comments

As we noted earlier today, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act this morning. The NAM joined with many other employer groups in sending a letter to the HELP Committee members prior to the hearing. Our letter explains that the Paycheck Fairness Act “would jeopardize employee incentive pay and employee privacy, and promote costly litigation against even well-intentioned employers – all while doing little to prevent actual wage discrimination.”

Our letter further explains that if the bill were to become law it would:

  • threaten employee bonus or incentive pay that, by definition, provides some employees a higher wage than others,
  • prohibit employees from negotiating higher pay either before being hired or during employment,
  • allow employees’ wages to be disclosed to peers, friends, family and competitors,
  • require employers to submit pay data on their employees to the Federal government,
  • force the Labor Department to reinstate a flawed and duplicative pay grade survey that has proven ineffective at enforcing civil rights laws among federal contractors,
  • make it easier for trial lawyers to file large class actions against employers, and
  • establish unlimited punitive and compensatory liability under the Equal Pay Act against employers of every size.

While the Senate has been focusing on numerous bills to create jobs, it seems counterintuitive to move forward on legislation that would make it more difficult for employers to create and retain jobs.

Trial Lawyer Paycheck Inflation Act

By | Briefly Legal, Human Resources, Labor Unions | No Comments

The Senate HELP Committee this Thursday will hold a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act. While this bill’s title gives the casual observer the sense that it will prevent discrimination in pay, in reality it only promotes more litigation. In the process, the legislation creates tremendous uncertainty for employers who are struggling to create and retain jobs in these trying economic conditions.

This legislation will be a boon to the trial bar by allowing unlimited punitive damages and larger class action suits against employers under the Equal Pay Act. Because the Equal Pay Act is a strict-liability statute, plaintiffs’ attorneys don’t even need to demonstrate an employer’s intent to do harm to file a suit. If passed into law the Paycheck Fairness Act would force employers to second-guess every pay decision that they make.

In addition, the bill eliminates key employer affirmative defenses when presented with such claims. Just last year EEOC data shows that fewer than 5 percent of discrimination claims actually had legal grounds behind them. What does this mean? Even though a case may not have grounds, it forces employers to mount expensive defenses themselves against such claims. As The Washington Post when they rightfully pointed out that this legislation “risks tilting the scales too far against employers and would remove, rather than restore, a sense of balance.”

While illegal discrimination has no place in today’s workplaces, this legislation will not address those issues. Discrimination on the basis of gender is already illegal. The legislation does not make discrimination any more against the law, it simply opens up the judicial process to more civil lawsuits based on equal pay claims. Who benefits? Not the worker, the lawyers

OSHA Nomination: Tradition. TRADITION!

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

David Michaels has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Although the NAM and many other employer groups have urged the Senate HELP Committee to hold a formal hearing on his nomination, the Committee appears to be moving forward with no such public inquiry. On Wednesday the Committee will consider his nomination in a business meeting with a vote likely to follow.

Senator Harkin (D-IA) who chairs the Senate HELP Committee has expressed his commitment to adhere to long standing Committee precedent and tradition. He recently asserted during the executive session that considered the nomination of Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board that it “has been the tradition in our Committee, we will vote on this group of nominees en bloc.” He added that it’s uncommon for the Committee to hold hearings on individual nominees to the NLRB.

If tradition is the determining factor, then the Chairman should hold a hearing on Michaels. As we noted in a joint letter from many employer groups to the Committee:

Finally, nominees for OSHA Assistant Secretary have traditionally had to appear at a hearing, even when the administration and the Senate were controlled by the same party. With the aggressive posture for OSHA being signaled by the Obama administration, Professor Michaels’ nomination should be treated no differently than the other nominees who were given a hearing.

SEIU Attorney Craig Becker’s Nomination for NRLB Clears Committee

By | Labor Unions | 3 Comments

The Senate HELP Committee met to report out a slate of key labor nominees. While David Michaels’ nomination to head OSHA has been postponed, all other nominees cleared the Committee. Unfortunately, included in this slate was SEIU associate general counsel Craig Becker. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) requested a roll call vote on his nomination, and Ranking Member Sen. Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) voted with every Democrat on the Committee in support of Becker’s nomination. Final vote was 15 to 8.

Sen. McCain stated that he plans to place a hold on Mr. Becker’s nomination as it now heads to the Senate floor. (UPDATE AP story.)

For more on Craig Becker’s nomination, click here.