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House Republicans Put Boeing Over Workers’ Rights in Bill to Cripple NLRB

Without a hearing, House Republicans on the Education and Workforce Committee today rammed through a bill (H.R. 2587) that would cripple the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ability to protect workers from management retaliation for exercising their rights. The bill was passed on a 23-16 party-line vote.

The Republican bill, which ranking minority member Rep. George Miller (D) dubbed the “Eviscerate Workers’ Rights and Ship Jobs Overseas Bill,” is aimed the NLRB’s recent decision to file a complaint against the Boeing Co. The NLRB charges that Boeing moved production away from its Washington State facility in retaliation for the workers exercising their right to strike, and that’s against the law.

Says Miller:

The legislation is nothing more than a rush to protect one special interest to the detriment of all American workers. This bill presents American workers with a choice: You can have your rights or you can have your job. But you can’t have both.

The bill will take away the NLRB’s authority to remedy unlawful conduct like Boeing is alleged to have engaged in. H.R. 2587 would apply to cases currently being considered, including the legal action against Boeing.

In a letter to the committee, AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel says the bill would “cripple workers’ rights, hobble the NLRB, make it easier for companies to ship jobs overseas and create a new race to the bottom for American workers.”

H.R. 2587 will take away the NLRB’s authority to restore workers to their jobs when companies simply eliminate work in order to eliminate workers who are pro-union or when companies eliminate work in order to avoid their legal obligation to bargain.

[The bill] will have dire unintended consequences as well. It will make it easier to ship jobs overseas because it legalizes the most despicable form of outsourcing—the illegal kind—by keeping the NLRB from being able to stop it. The bill will remove one of the only tools preventing work from leaving the U.S.

Miller says the freedom to organize and collectively bargain is “meaningless if there is no effective remedy when they are violated.”

Among other things, H.R. 2587 would:

  • Make it easier to ship jobs overseas. If a company closes an entire U.S. plant or part of a U.S. plant and moves the work to China because the U.S. employees organized a union, the NLRB would no longer have the power to order the work to be kept in or returned to this country.  In 2000, the NLRB obtained an order to force a company to bring work back to the United States from Mexico after a company allegedly outsourced the work in response to an organizing drive. That order would no longer be available to workers under the Republicans’ bill.
  • Make runaway shops legal for all intents and purposes. A company could destroy a union by setting up a separate facility down the street, subcontracting its work there and eventually closing down the unionized worksite. The only effective remedy for that kind of conduct is to order the employer to return the subcontracted work. This bill would no longer allow that remedy.
  • Provide employers with a loophole for firing workers who try to organize a union. To kill an organizing drive, an employer could eliminate or transfer work being done by pro-union employees and then lay off those employees. This bill would not allow the NLRB to have that work restored or transferred back.
  • Create a new race to the bottom for American workers’ rights, wages, benefits and working conditions. By allowing employers to discriminate against workers who exercise their right to join together and bargain for better wages without an effective remedy, the Republican bill insidiously plays American workers against each other.
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