WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 29, 2017
Today, the committee meets to consider the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, and the Employee Privacy Protection Act.
Together, these proposals will help restore fairness and balance to federal labor policies by reforming the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRA was signed into law more than 80 years ago to protect the rights of workers and employers. Congress wanted to ensure workers had the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union. Congress also recognized the need for a level playing field between employers and union leaders. That’s why a neutral arbiter — the National Labor Relations Board — was created to maintain appropriate balance.
However, faced with dwindling union membership, liberals in Washington have spent years trying to tilt the playing field in favor of Big Labor.
Unable to move their partisan agenda through Congress, liberals turned to the NLRB, where they found a willing partner. Over the years, the board has abandoned its role as an impartial referee and launched a concerted effort to boost organized labor. Decision after decision by the board sought to rewrite long-standing policies to pander to powerful special interests.
Unfortunately, the rights of workers — and even Native Americans — were trampled on in the process. We are here today to defend those rights and ensure the law makes it crystal clear that they must be protected.
With the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino decision, the NLRB sparked outrage among Native American tribes. After respecting Native American sovereignty for more than 70 years, the board reversed course. It began using a subjective test to decide when and where to exert its jurisdiction over tribal governments under the National Labor Relations Act.
This decision was incredibly misguided. First of all, the NLRA was designed for the private sector, and the law specifically excludes government employers and employees. Secondly, the federal government has long recognized tribes as "domestic dependent nations" with an inherent right to self-government.
For years, Native Americans have urged Congress to correct this wrong and stand up for tribal sovereignty. That’s why Representative Rokita introduced the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017. This important legislation will ensure tribal governments are treated the same as state and local governments when it comes to policies impacting their workplaces.
On top of the board’s actions undermining tribal sovereignty, workers have faced new policies limiting their voice in union elections and even invading their privacy.
In 2015, the NLRB implemented the ambush election rule. We all know what this rule was about. It was designed to rush employees into union elections and make it nearly impossible for employers to respond. Workers now have as few as 11 days to make an important decision on whether or not to join a union. And employers have just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their case before an NLRB hearing officer.
To make matters worse, the rule jeopardizes the privacy of workers and makes them vulnerable to intimidation. Employers are required to hand over the private information of their employees to union bosses, including home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, and work schedules. This simply isn’t right.
And that’s not all. A radical micro-union scheme empowered union leaders to organize a small minority of employees within a business — as few as two individuals. The result is a divided workplace, fewer opportunities for advancement, and a maze of union red tape. For example, unions can now organize employees by individual departments of department stores. This is, quite frankly, absurd.
Representatives Walberg and Wilson are leading the effort to overturn these harmful policies and protect worker freedom. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, introduced by Mr. Walberg, would empower workers to make an informed decision in union elections and level the playing field between employers and union leaders. The Employee Privacy Protection Act, introduced by Mr. Wilson, safeguards the privacy of workers and gives them greater control over the disclosure of their personal information.
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