Issue #349

Republican proposal for labor law ‘reform’ ‘a disgrace,’ labor leader says


Senate Republicans say they have a plan to save U.S. labor law from partisanship and dysfunction. But their prescription for reform could make for even more gridlock—and critics say that’s the whole idea. On the Senate floor last Tuesday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) unveiled a bill that would make sweeping changes at the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor law on unions and employers. The proposal would permanently change the board’s makeup from five members—three of whom, per modern tradition, hail from the sitting president’s party—to a more equitable six members, divided evenly at three Democrats and three Republicans. Sounds great, right? Everybody hates partisan bickering. As Alexander claimed on the floor, the change would “require both sides to find a middle ground.” There’s just one hitch: A permanent, even split along partisan lines could ensure that the most contentious labor cases go unresolved for years, with conservative and liberal board members at loggerheads. “This is the destruction of the NLRB, and they know it,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 workers. “It is a disgrace. Lamar Alexander is a disgrace.” Huffington Post, 9-17-14.

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