National Consumers League

Frustration in the halls of Congress


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By Michell K. McIntyre, Project Director, NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft Instead of calling for a vote or hearing on President Obama’s Jobs Plan, we are disappointed that the House Committee on Education & the Workforce chose to hold the fourth partisan hearing last week that focused on weakening the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal agency tasked with maintaining balance and promoting collective bargaining between workers and employers. The GOP majority in the House Committee on Education & the Workforce seems decidedly pro-employer and anti-regulation, to the detriment of American workers. Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has been an especially vocal and partisan critic of NLRB, especially the NLRB ruling against Boeing for moving its factory from Washington to South Carolina. As President Obama recently noted, we have 14 months until the next election and Americans can’t wait that long for Congress to do something.  It’s time to stop promoting corporate profits alone and focus on ensuring the safety and prosperity of American workers. The House Committee majority seems to take issue with all of NLRB’s rulings, even the most seemingly benign. For example, the NLRB recently issued a requirement that businesses post a free notice outlining the basic rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the National Labor Relations Act—and critics responded by accusing NLRB of “over-reaching.” “The president unveiled his jobs bill two weeks ago and it was introduced in Congress this week by Congressman Larson. Yet we’re here talking about a poster,” said Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ). As outgoing NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman noted in a recent NY Times article, the goal of the NLRB is still a sound one: to “further the policy of this statute, which is to further the practice of collective bargaining, obviously collective bargaining freely chosen.” Liebman concluded: “Some say collective bargaining is antithetical to the economy. I don’t buy that at all. This was a statute that worked. It created the middle class. It created good jobs.” In an effort to start the conversation on the President’s Job Plan, ranking minority member Congressman George Miller (D-CA) announced the creation of an eForum on Jobs and has invited Americans to submit their stories about how the recession and economic downturn has affected their lives. The eForum on Jobs will initially run until Monday, October 3 and concentrate on gathering stories from the public on education, construction, and long-term unemployment, with selected stories to be published on the Democratic committee’s website. For more information on how to submit your story to the eForum on Jobs, please visit http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/eforum.