Pro-union provisions in Build Back Better would threaten workers’ freedom – Orange County Register



The dimensions of the final budget reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better Act (“BBB”), are still being negotiated among Democratic members of Congress. Emphasis was placed on the price of the invoice. However, hidden in this bill there will likely be one or both of the labor law provisions pursued by the Democratic Party for over 70 years.

In such a massive bill, those two things could work out well, even if they alone wouldn’t.

The short review timeframe also suggests that this could be happening. The Republicans’ Senate decision to approve a temporary increase in the debt ceiling until December 3 alone, coupled with their statement that they will force Congressional Democrats to carry that burden on their own afterwards, indicates Democrats will include increasing debt. ceiling at BBB, which only needs the votes of senators and Democratic representatives to pass. This means that December 3 has become the effective deadline for BBB to pass as well.

What is most likely is that provisions will be added to the BBB until the last minute, when Democratic members of Congress will be asked to vote for the entire package because, if the bill fails , the United States would suffer a catastrophic default. on our sovereign debt. It is likely, as President Pelosi once said of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), that Congress will have to “pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it – Far from the fog of controversy ”.

The two labor provisions to watch as last-minute inclusions would enact an “à la carte majority” rule to require certification of a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for employees and a repeal of the labor provision. “Right to work” of the Taft Hartley Act of 1947..

The National New Deal Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave a union the exclusive right to represent all employees in a particular job setting if a simple majority of workers voted for the union in a secret ballot . Unions argued that they should be allowed to speak on behalf of all employees, even those who did not want the union, comparable to how a member of Congress represents all people in the member’s district, even though the member won only 50.1% of the vote. The analogy to a political election required a secret ballot from employees.

The most aggressive position that was put forward in 1935, but not adopted, and which has since been reproduced in the platforms of the Democratic Party, was that the union should have the right to be the exclusive representative of all workers. if the union presented the management with cards in favor of the union. signed by the majority of employees.

The threat to workers’ freedom of choice is obvious. Coercion is not unheard of when a union representative places a card in front of a worker for signature. A shop steward, joined by union supporters, can be very persuasive when surrounding an individual worker at the door of a factory. The secret ballot requirement was intended to protect against such intimidation.

The second provision likely to be included at the last minute has already passed the House, on an almost perfect party line vote. The Taft Hartley Act allowed individual states to protect non-union workers from having to pay anything to a union: they have the “right to work” even if they do not support the union. Union supporters want to repeal this, forcing workers who disadvantage the union to contribute anyway up to the cost the union incurs to represent them, often inflating their estimate of that cost.

Both provisions run counter to the individual freedom of workers to decide for themselves who will represent them in collective bargaining. Neither arrangement would stand up to the light of day, if the sun could shine on either. On December 3, at 2 a.m., however, they could very well become law.

Tom Campbell is Professor of Law and Economics at Chapman University. He served five terms in Congress. He left the Republican Party in 2016 when President Trump was appointed and is currently working to create a new political party in California, the Common Sense Party.


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