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Symbolic Anti-NLRB Bill Shows the True Desire of the House GOP: A United States Without Labor Laws

The eyes of an extremist: TN Rep. Phil Roe

In a 219-210 vote, House Republican leadership pushed through H.R. 1120, a bill that would effectively end the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The bill will not be voted on by the Senate and is therefore only symbolic. H.R. 1120 has been a priority of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and is a clear indication of the goals of the extreme members of the GOP: a future without enforcable labor laws.

All House Democrats voted against H.R. 1120 and were joined by 10 Republicans. Members of the GOP who voted against party leadership include Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), David Joyce (Ohio), Peter King (N.Y.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Don Young (Alaska).

In their response to H.R. 1120, “Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor Management Relations Act,” the AFL-CIO wholeheartedly condemned the intent of the legislation.  Much of the House GOP’s objections to the NLRB involve organized labor’s pursuit of card check as the new standard for union elections.  Business interests are vehemently opposed to this.

Bill sponsor Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee used the common, see-through disguise of “protecting workers” while attempting to do the opposite. He previously wrote on The Hill,

“The NLRB has taken a sharp turn to the left instead of acting as an impartial umpire. We must protect workers and employers alike, and continued Board activity does the exact opposite.”

Roe’s symbolic attempt to eliminate the NLRB is likely a returned favor for the massive financial support his campaigns have received from far Right donors like the Powell family, political players and anti-union construction owners in the state. During Roe’s last campaign cycle, general contractors were his second biggest demographic in terms of contributions. The member of the House Tea Party Caucus has been affiliated with some of the House’s most partisan bills touching on topics such as “Death Panels created by Obamacare,” the Ronald Regan commemorative coin act, and a bill that would change IRS code to repeal the excise tax on the indoor tanning industry.

The weakened NLRB, still reeling from a January U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision that found that recess appointments to the board made by President Obama were unconstitutional. The Noel Canning v. NLRB decision accompanied with H.R. 1120 would invalidate any NLRB decision made since January 4th, 2012. Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen recently talked about the dangers of H.R. 1120 in a Huffington Post op-ed:

Today the NLRB has no teeth, but if H.R. 1120 has its way, tomorrow it might not survive. A vote for H.R. 1120 is a vote to send this country to a pre-1935 era, before the National Labor Relations Act. It was a time when employers could punish, spy on and blacklist union members. It was a time when employers could legally bribe workers with rewards or promises during union elections.

To protect working Americans, the Senate majority must force confirmation of the White House’s package of five NLRB members and general counsel and, if necessary, changing the Senate rules to do so. Otherwise, the United States becomes the only global democracy without any meaningful labor law.

Despite their loss in the 2012 Presidential election, thought(less) leaders on the Far Right are clinging to their outmoded strategy of obstruction and defiance. Cohen blames outdated Senate rules for President Obama having to attempt to fill the board through recess appointments.

The president didn’t have to resort to such measures, if only the Senate had reformed its outdated rules. The ability of Senators to endlessly hold up presidential nominations was a big reason why Fix the Senate Now coalition pushed to overhaul the rules earlier this year. Unfortunately, those reforms didn’t happen. As a result, even the Court of Appeals that decided Noel Canning is currently missing three justices, thanks to the broken Senate rules and the determination of Republican Senators to block nearly every judicial nomination made by Obama.

Republicans created this quagmire. And now those lawmakers, beholden to corporate interests, seek to further gut U.S. labor law.

You can see how your Representative voted here.


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