Union Bosses & Their Supporters On Capitol Hill Put The Lame In Lame Duck

Katie Gage
August 29, 2010

As if Big Labor hasn’t already squeezed enough out of Congress with payoffs upon payoffs, they are now positioning themselves for one last-ditch effort to achieve the mother of all gifts, the job-killing Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA).

One of the biggest impediments to economic recovery is the uneasy feeling small businesses and employers are sensing across the country. Over the past 18 months, President Obama and some Members of Congress have injected a large measure of uncertainty into the economy through the introduction of controversial new laws, contentious administration appointments and deeply disturbing Executive Orders favoring political donors like the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), among others.

Unfortunately, a measure of stability that our economy should finally be able to count on remains elusive, even as the sun beings to set on the 111th Congress. Instead of finally being able to breathe a sigh of relief that EFCA – the most radical change to labor law in generations, possibly in history – will not come about, we’re forced to brace for what could be one of the most brazen free-for-all lame duck sessions in recent memory.

Lame duck sessions occur after an election has taken place and they usually focus on specific, bipartisan, non-controversial pieces of legislation that were not able to receive sufficient consideration during the regularly scheduled session.

Instead, union boss advocates like Senator Tom Harkin appear to be planning a strategy to ignore the will of the people at the ballot box and attempt to reward their political benefactors in a lame duck session with a bailout for Big Labor bosses at the expense of small businesses and jobs.

Harkin, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) stated, “To those who think [EFCA’s] dead, I say think again … We’re still trying to maneuver … A lot of things can happen in a lame duck session, too.” In spite of a series of questionable comments on Harkin’s part in recent months, his threats have to be taken seriously as he is the chairman of the corresponding committee and in close communication with his national union boss buddies.

But Harkin should proceed with great caution as he will be putting senators up for re-election in 2012 in a precarious position. The reality is that EFCA is incredibly unpopular across the country and candidates who have decided to stand with labor bosses over workers have run and lost. One needs to look no further than Bill Halter to understand the fate that will befall candidates ignoring the will of the people.

The members of Harkin’s caucus understand the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act benefits Big Labor, while it hurts workers and small businesses. During a lame duck, these newly, in-cycle candidates would most likely show very little enthusiasm in support of job-killing legislation, just as many of their colleagues up for election and re-election this cycle have done.

And the reality is that the 111th Congress and Obama Administration have already been a boon to Big Labor. In February, Congress passed a health care plan only after exempting labor unions from many of its provisions.

Then in March, President Obama appointed former labor lawyer and radical Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Becker was promptly mired in controversy for failing to recuse himself in the face of an obvious conflict of interest in a case involving one of his former employers, the SEIU.

Make no mistake, Becker’s appointment was controversial due to the fact his nomination was unable to receive sufficient bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate resulting in a recess appointment.

There are literally dozens of examples of special treatment for national labor unions at the hands of those in power and at the expense of the American people. But Becker’s appointment is illustrative of the lengths those in Washington will go to in an effort to “payback” their friends in Big Labor.

That means, the business community must remain vigilant and cannot take anything for granted. We must hold our elected officials responsible for their words and deeds ensuring they understand that supporting the forced unionization of America’s small businesses would be the equivalent of a death sentence to their political careers.

But the stakes couldn’t be higher for small businesses across the country as the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act would force them to lay off workers and shut their doors. Taking away the secret ballot and allowing the government to mandate contracts on employees and employers alike without their consent doesn’t make sense in a good economy and in a bad one, the threat alone increases uncertainty, which results in less jobs and economic development.

Congress has the opportunity to do what they know is right, permanently table the job-killing EFCA legislation. Any attempts to bring it up leading into the midterm elections or shortly thereafter in a lame duck session of Congress would only expose more candidates to the fate met by others who have decided to stand with union bosses over their constituents, certain failure.

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AZ Daily Sun--Coconino Voices: PRO Act legislation would hurt local businesses

— 05.13.2021 —
By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
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