Addressing the New Realities of Labor Unions

| May 18 2012

Why Congress Must Protect American Workers

Sometimes in politics, policymakers are confronted with a situation where conventional wisdom and common myths are starkly at odds with reality.  Unions are a clear example of this.  Labor unions have a romantic image in the eyes of some Americans. They are  seen as common, blue collar folks banding together to stand up to heartless corporations and white collar fat cats.  But this is no longer true.  Modern unions are often white collar, not blue collar.  Often, they stand against taxpayers, not fat cats.

This must stop.

Unions were started with good reason during the industrial revolution. Workers were often forced to work in dangerous conditions and were given little benefit if the company was successful.  Unions helped to curb those abuses. But things changed.  Employee protections that unions were fighting for, such as workplace safety, workman’s compensation for injuries, and other such regulations, were enshrined into law.  Wages for workers improved, pensions became nearly universal, and jobs became more secure.

Union problems were amplified when government employees began to unionize and unionized contractors made unreasonable demands of the Government. As Ronald Reagan explained during the famous PATCO Air Traffic Controllers strike, unlike private sector unions, the Government cannot “shut down the assembly line.” Unlike in the private sector, there were no profits to share.  Every increase in benefits comes at the expense of taxpayers.

The Obama Administration, instead of advocating for a fair deal for the taxpayers, has often sided with politically powerful unions instead.  Whether it’s appointing union cronies to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), pushing for “Card Check” legislation or refusing to stand up for taxpayer dollars when threatened by union contractors, the President has consistently sided with the unions instead of the taxpayers.

I have been at the forefront of the fight against union overreach.  Recently, I co-sponsored the RAISE Act.  This bill makes a simple, common sense change to the law that will allow businesses to give more productive employees raises as they see fit, even if they are union members.  Currently, they cannot.  Amazingly, many unions oppose this, because they want only one wage for mediocre and exceptional workers alike.  This gives them more power.

Another way I’ve consistently fought against union abuses is by fighting to get rid of the Davis-Bacon Act.  Essentially, this act says that whenever a Government contracts for a public works project, instead of taking the lowest bid, they must pay union workers a “prevailing wage.”  This wage is established from area to area, based essentially on arbitrary political calculations, not economics.  This increases the cost to the taxpayer to benefit only a few.  I have submitted three amendments to various pieces of legislation and recently a standalone bill, Fiscal Responsibility in

Federal Contracting Act, in an attempt to stop this abuse.

I’ve also consistently opposed the Obama Administration’s push for “Card Check” legislation.  This odious piece of legislation is clearly nothing more than a license to intimidate.  Currently, when a union seeks to organize in a particular business, the union must win a secret ballot election.  Under “Card Check” the union is only required get public signatures from the employees allowing union supporters to bully and harass those who refuse to sign on.  This is purely about the power of the unions.

Finally, I, along with other like minded members of Congress, have written to protest the actions of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRB was established to be an “honest broker,” in labor disputes, but instead, Obama packed it with union cronies.  These have lead to egregious decisions, even shutting down a Boeing plant in South Carolina because unions in Seattle, where some other Boeing plants are located, objected.  There have also been several bills meant to curb the abuses of the NLRB that have passed the House with my support.

It has been frustrating fighting against the clear abuse of union authority in light of the Obama Administration’s coddling of union bosses.  None-the-less, I am not deterred. Whatever it takes to have a sensible, fair policy for unions, non-union workers, companies, consumers and taxpayers, is a fight worth having.  I will not tire of this fight, and intend on continuing it so long as I am in Congress.

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