The decision by congressional Republicans to block a recent labor board rule is being met with adamant opposition from Democrat representatives.
Back in December, the National Labor Relations Board established a rule which shortens the amount of time between when a union files to represent workers at a company and when the elections are held. Opponents, who dubbed the decision the “Ambush Election” rule, argue it will deprive employers of their right to explain the impacts of unionizing.
The rule has already been getting push back from business groups but it wasn’t until congressional Republicans attempted to block the rule by using the Congressional Review Act that Democrat leaders began voicing their support for the labor board changes.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Patty Murray, argues the labor board rule is necessary to protect workers from greedy companies.
“Even as the biggest corporations have posted record profits, and even as American productivity has increased, American workers’ paychecks have stagnated,” Murray told the committee on Wednesday. “And many are struggling to make ends meet on rock-bottom wages and poor conditions on the job.”
“Unfortunately, once again, instead of sticking up for workers, my Republican colleagues are rushing to the defense of the biggest corporations that have an interest in keeping wages low and denying workers a voice to improve the workplace,” Murray argued.
“When workers want to vote on whether to form a union, they aren’t looking for special treatment. They are simply trying to exercise their basic rights,” Murray noted. “But too often, big corporations use loopholes in the current election process to delay a straight up-or-down vote. Workers have the right to vote on union representation in elections that are free from unnecessary delays and wasteful stall tactics.”
“And our country should not turn our backs on empowering workers through collective bargaining – especially because that’s the very thing that helped so many workers climb into the middle class,” Murray added. “The NLRB’s election rule is outdated. The NLRB’s new representation rule makes important, but modest, amendments to guarantee a free and fair election process in today’s modern workplace.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the committee, however argues that the rule will hurt both the workers and the company they work for.
“Today more than 95 percent of union elections occur within 56 days of the petition-filing,” Alexander detailed. “But under this new rule, elections could take place in as few as 11 days. This rule will harm employers and employees alike.”
While Republicans say the new rule is incredibly problematic, some Democrats argue the whole thing is being exaggerated.
“It seems like we’re not talking about the same rules, because it’s so apocalyptic coming from you guys, and to me it seems pretty modest,” Sen. Al Franken said at the hearing according to The Hill.
Additionally, Democrats say the rule change will help make sure business owners don’t drag out the election process in order to retaliate against union organizers and intimidate workers.
“Evidently, delay works,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told The Hill. “I’m sure that employers who want to fight to keep their workers out of a union prefer a broken, inefficient system that they can manipulate to try to block workers from organizing.”
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