Politics
President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the health care bill, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the health care bill, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)  

House appropriators take a shot at Obamacare, Labor, NLRB

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Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

The House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education is attacking funding for Obamacare, the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

According to subcommittee chairman, Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, the appropriations bill would prevent the Obama administration from implementing Obamacare until the Supreme Court rules on the case. It also defunds the NLRB’s attempts to implement “quickie elections” for unions and defunds implementation of the NLRB’s “poster rule,” which requires employers nationwide to hang pro-union posters in workplaces.

The “quickie elections” rule the NLRB recently passed allows unions to hold a workforce election within just seven to ten days after requesting one. For decades, unions has to wait about 45 days or longer after requesting an election to hold one. That ensured workers and the company had enough time to catch up and become fully informed on what was happening, as union leaders usually already know what’s going on because they deal with labor relations issues all the time.

The NLRB poster rule, which is currently being challenged in court, would require employers to hang posters in the workplace informing workers of their right to unionize. If business refuse or fail to hang to correct posters, the NLRB rule says they’ll be committing an “unfair labor practice,” which opens them up to more scrutiny from Labor officials in the Obama administration and a possible investigation. The rule is expected to affect all employers nationwide.

The appropriations bill Rehberg and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers approved this week, de-funds implementation of those rules.

The appropriations bill accomplishes these goals through “riders,” or budget lines that cut funding for specific purposes. The bill also de-funds the NLRB’s plans to implement “micro-unions.”

In August, the NLRB decided in a case called “Specialty Healthcare” that unions could target small fractions of workplaces. Micro-unions allow labor organizers to section off company employees by specific job descriptions. For example, if a union tried to organize a restaurant staff, leaders would target servers, busboys, dishwashers, cooks and hostesses separately.

Per the NLRB’s micro-union ruling, in non-acute healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, unions can now target each layer of staff with organizing tactics. In labor policy circles, it’s currently being debated on how far this new NLRB micro-union rule reaches: Does it affect just non-acute healthcare facilities, all industries and workforces nationwide or somewhere in the middle?

The micro union ruling was one of a slew of decisions the NLRB pushed through in August before now-former chairwoman Wilma Liebman’s term on the Board ended.

On the Obamacare front, Rehberg said the appropriations bill prevents HHS from implementing the controversial and possibly unconstitutional healthcare reform until the Supreme Court decides on the case. It also yanks $8.6 billion of funding destined for Obamacare implementation, while increasing funding for National Institutes of Health biomedical research and Social Security.

“This common-sense plan is built on the simple idea that the economy isn’t just a bunch of numbers,” Rehberg said in a statement about the bill. “The economy is people. It’s what impacts them, their hopes and dreams, their families and their lives.”

“By spending tax dollars strategically, we can balance critical funding for programs that actually help people and families with the real need to rein in government over-spending,” he adds.

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