Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Actby Representative Steve Womack
Posted on 2013-04-12
WOMACK. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman.
Mr. Speaker, our Framers were visionaries. They had the foresight to not only establish constitutional principles and processes that address the challenges of their day, but that still sustain and guide this country 230-plus years later.
Now, I don't think there's any question that this particular government, this Federal Government, has gotten away from proven and time-tested processes required by our Constitution and has stretched constitutional authority to its limits.
We're operating under continuing resolutions. That seems to be normal today. We've submitted budgets that are now over 2 months late. And we have taken other steps, right here in these Halls, that have served to usurp the rights that belong to our States.
Doing so has left us vulnerable, Mr. Speaker, to rulings like the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling on February 8 that said that the President's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional.
Now, like my friends on the other side of the aisle, and like you, Mr. Speaker, we have all raised our hand and said that we're going to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and you know the rest. We've all taken that oath.
The Noel Canning decision holds the President's recess appointments are in direct contradiction to what the Framers outlined in article II, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution. And, as a result of the ruling, each decision made by that Board since that time has been called into question.
Mr. Speaker, I, personally, don't have anything against the individuals who have been appointed to the NLRB. And it's irrelevant whether I agree or disagree with the Board's rulings.
My concerns are, and the concern of each and every Member of this House should be the fact that we continually push the limits of our Constitution, the checks and balances outlined in this sacred document.
At its best, this Court of Appeals ruling provides uncertainty, and the last thing that this country, this economy needs is uncertainty.
I recognize the weight of the decisions made on the interpretation of the Constitution. They are tough. It is no easy task. And that's why I don't think it's unreasonable to press the pause button on the decisions emanating from this Board until we get a final ruling. It is irresponsible, in my strong opinion, not to.
That's why I appreciate my friend from Tennessee (Mr. Roe) for authoring this legislation. I support it wholeheartedly and recommend its passage.
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 15 seconds.
With all due respect to the last speaker, this bill doesn't push the pause button. It pushes the erase button. It erases the rights of American workers to bargain collectively and organize.
At this time I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to my friend and neighbor from New Jersey (Mr. Holt), a member of the committee, and someone who understands that there's a direct connection between economic growth and collective bargaining.
Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend and colleague from New Jersey.
Let's understand, the issue here is not about recess appointments or the Board quorum at a Federal agency or the Constitution. My Republican friends never raised this issue in hundreds of previous occurrences.
Instead, what's happening now, the majority is using this misguided bill as a platform to continue a coordinated attack on the National Labor Relations Board and on American workers.
H.R. 1120 is simply an attempt to effectively shut down the Board and deny all private sector employees their rights.
The NLRB is an independent agency which serves as the only avenue for private sector employees to bargain collectively, to file unfair labor complaints, to conduct union elections if desired.
The National Labor Relations Act stabilizes workplaces and ensures industrial peace. We must not continue these warrantless attacks on the only established avenue which brings employees to the bargaining table with their employers.
What H.R. 1120 would do is roll back the clock three-quarters of a century, to the days of brutality and humiliation, the days before the institution of the Wagner Act, the days in which workers and their families suffered indignities, strife, even bloodshed.
Having laws for orderly labor and management processes helps businesses. It helps industry. It helps citizens of all economic levels. It helps our economy.
I regret that the majority is wasting time that could be used to address the real problems facing Americans. At every town hall citizens ask me: What about jobs? What about economic growth? But instead of helping workers raise their wages, improve workplace safety, ensure fair retirement, House Republicans continue their attack on the National Labor Relations Board and ignore the economic crisis facing American workers, and making the American Dream that much harder for Americans to achieve.
This is not about abstract worker rights. This is about a productive economy where workers and their employers can work together.