GOP's Anti-Union Measure Fails in the Senate

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-WYBy SAM HANANEL, Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate rejected a Republican attempt Tuesday to overturn new regulations designed to give unions quicker representation elections in their effort to organize more workplaces.

The 54-45, largely party line vote against a resolution of disapproval leaves intact National Labor Relations Board rules that are scheduled to take effect April 30. Unions had sought the rules changes while business groups opposed them. Senate Democrats unanimously supported the new regulations. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican supporting them.

Under the existing regulations, workers typically vote within 45 to 60 days after a union gathers enough signatures from workers saying they want to hold an election. The new rules could cut that time by days or even weeks by simplifying procedures and putting off some challenges until after the election is held, cutting back hearings and reducing legal delays.

Unions call the changes a modest fix to prevent companies from using stalling tactics to delay a vote while workers can be subject to harassment, threats and even illegal firing. Republicans argue the new rules will lead to "ambush" elections that barely leave company managers enough time to respond or counsel against forming a union.

The NLRB has been the focus of intense partisan bickering since President Barack Obama gave the independent agency its first Democratic majority in nearly a decade. The board has issued a number of rules and decisions that tend to favor unions over business interests.

"The National Labor Relations Board seems to be hell bent on changing processes across the board more for political reasons than for substantive reasons," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said during floor debate.

But Democrats said the rules address some of the most abusive situations where companies manipulate procedures to conduct anti-union campaigns.

"All the board has done is to send a clear message to employers: you can't abuse the process to buy yourself more time to intimidate workers," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

The new rules could help unions expand in the private sector, where membership has dwindled to about 6.9% of all workers. Retailers like Target and Walmart are concerned that the new rules will encourage unions to step up organizing at their stores.

"With only about 5% average unionization, retailers are low-hanging fruit for union organizers," said David French, a vice president of government relations for the National Retail Federation.

The GOP measure had little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate and faced a White House veto threat. But it forced some Democrats who face tough re-election bids to take a stand on an issue that has riled business groups.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers designated the vote a "key vote" -- used to score members of Congress each year on their records.

Senate Republicans plan to vote on another resolution of disapproval later this year to overturn an Environmental Protection Agency rule that set the first national air pollution standards for toxic mercury pollution from the nation's power plants.

The tactic to nullify regulations has succeeded only once before. In 2001, Congress repealed ergonomic regulations that had been approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Follow Sam Hananel's labor coverage on Twitter at http://twitter.com/shananel


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Setanta

LM@O !!!!!!!!! of course the holy unions want wallieworld etc--there's more than 300000 prospective/future PAY CHECKS TO GARNISH,bundle it UP and send right out to the DNC and tell THE EMPLOYEES these are union DUES and your union DOES x,y, and z for YOU.
that IS the ONLY REASON they want their filthy hands on those employeed there.
and DO NOT BOTHER TO REPLY with your brain dead union virtue script regurgitative SCATOLOGY....as all union memebers ARE NOT EQUAL and LOL WE KNOW all about IT--payin full fare for decades/same union/same local/same JOB and still THEIR step child.

April 25 2012 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
nl1952

Headlines should read--
Dems Support Unions and Higher Wages
GOP Support Businesses and Jobs

April 25 2012 at 7:38 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

AOL/HuffPuff is frantically spewing Obama-propaganda.

This lefty story claims the GOP is after the poor unions. Another actually claims that gasoline prices are "cheaper"! Another is an obligatory lefty story about a sleazy oil company CEO. A particularly absurd story tells us that we "feel better" about the economy.

The election is on! From now on AOL/HuffPuff will be in Obama-propaganda-hyper-drive, trying to get us to "feel better" about the DISASTER OF OBAMA'S ECONOMY.

April 25 2012 at 4:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ha6ai's comment
craigmrfrn

At least Huff Post doesn't have to self proclaim how "Fair and Balanced" they are. I think any news service that does, has a hidden agenda.

April 25 2012 at 4:39 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

AOL/HuffPuff is frantically spewing Obama-propaganda.

This lefty story claims the GOP is after the poor unions. Another actually claims that gasoline prices are "cheaper"! Another is an obligatory lefty story about a sleazy oil company CEO. A particularly absurd story tells us that we "feel better" about the economy.

The election is on! From now on AOL/HuffPuff will be in Obama-propaganda-hyper-drive, trying to get us to "feel better" about the DISASTER OF OBAMA'S ECONOMY.

April 25 2012 at 4:28 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
roxx

Glad to see the unions are so adept at finding new ways to grab your money. One of the provisions in this new NLRB bill is an okay for whats termed "mini unions" within a company. It basically means a few people can agree to have a little union where they dont represent a majority of the workers. Only they can demand that everyone have to contribute to their mini union and that that contribution be taken right out of their paychecks. Its called a union shop because of the mini union. Like that? It means the majority can not want it but will have to pay for it anyway. Ouch.

April 25 2012 at 2:14 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Mark Goldstein

great.More unions..Mean higher prices and less people working..those working working harder..It's alose lose situation....Unions were good when they started and their time has run it's course. Often the pay scale of a wage shop is higher than can be afforded..Hence people are let go and work is outsourced to other countries to stay competitive..

April 24 2012 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
TOM

I would like to tell Iowa republican senator Chuckles Greasely what Iowans think of this anti Union senator, " when you retire please do not come back to Iowa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 24 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
kramdenrf

Any working class person who supports the filth that the GOP has put in "our" congress is an idiot.

April 24 2012 at 6:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Somey

Yipee

April 24 2012 at 5:52 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply