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Jun
2015
29

House and Senate Subcommittees Both Pass Bills to Basically Boko Haram the NLRB

This image provided by the Dumb Idea Hall of Fame

This image provided by the Dumb Idea Hall of Fame


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The House and Senate appropriations subcommittees both recently passed bills that would slash the budget of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the year starting October 1st.  The House bill would cut the board’s budget by $74 million, while the Senate bill would cut it by a more “modest” $27 million.  Perhaps more damaging to the board would be several riders attached to the bills which would effectively prevent the NLRB from taking action on topics unpopular among Republicans.  These “administrative provisions” would halt the progress made on behalf of workers by the NLRB under the Obama administration.  

People’s World broke down the provisions in detail:

One such “rider” would ban the board from using any money to institute its new rule to consolidate the endless litigation and other tactics employers and their union-busters employ to delay or deny union recognition elections - everything from challenging the size and composition of the bargaining unit to challenging ballots and leafleting.

A second GOP “rider” would ban the board from spending money on deciding whether franchisors - think McDonald’s headquarters - are “joint employers” with local franchises - your local McDonald’s - in terms of wages, working conditions and workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

The board’s general counsel, recognizing the huge growth of franchising since the act was enacted in 1935, is using complaints against McDonald’s as a test case on whether and how to hold corporate headquarters of franchise firms jointly responsible for the low pay and impossible working conditions in the local franchise outlets.  The board’s general counsel notes that franchisors control almost all aspects of local operations.

A third “rider,” a pet project of Labor Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., would ban NLRB from governing worker-boss relations in commercial enterprises, notably casinos, owned by Native American tribes.  The right wing GOP majority on the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on that issue the week before.  Tribal representatives argued they are, in effect, independent nations and thus not under the NLRB.

In a statement, Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) provided the shoddy rationale for the worker attack:

“This is a fiscally responsible bill that reduces discretionary spending by nearly $4 billion. At the same time, by carefully reprioritizing where taxpayer dollars are spent, the bill increases funding for important programs that benefit the American people. Specifically, funding is targeted to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, special education, Head Start, and a number of programs aimed at helping Native American youth. And through the inclusion of several important policy provisions, we have taken steps to rein in the excessive overreach of the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board,” said. “This bill reflects the values and priorities of the American taxpayer, setting us on a path that will reduce the deficit while funding programs that make meaningful differences in the lives of Americans.”

President Obama originally asked for $278 million, $4 million more than the previous year, for the NLRB.  He hoped the agency would add 30 employees to the current total of 1,810.  If the House gets their way there is little chance these additional employees will be brought into the fold.  

The bills also make major cuts to the Department of Labor, providing $206 million less than last year and $1.4 billion less than the President requested.  The House bill also cuts the budgets of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Employment Training Administration.  

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