CWA and other unions Wednesday defeated an effort by Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from carrying out its mission to protect workers against employers’ unfair labor practices.
The fight will continue on the Senate floor where Republicans want to strip the agency of its legal power and responsibilities to protect union workers from employers’ retaliation.
The fight stems from an amendment introduced by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) to bar the NLRB from pursuing a case against Boeing, which is charged with retaliating against union employees by moving work from Washington state to a new, non-union production line in South Carolina.
The amendment was defeated in a 14-14 tie. While it focused on Boeing, it would have prevented the NLRB from pursuing any cases involving companies that move work from a union to a non-union plant to retaliate for lawful union activity.
Hundreds of union members’ calls to the offices of two wavering Democrats persuaded Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska to join with 13 other Democrats in voting against the measure. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted with Republicans.
“The actions the NLRB has taken under both Republican and Democratic majorities against employers that have engaged in blatant violation of human rights protected in law would no longer be possible if this amendment were to pass,” CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson said in a letter to Nelson and other members of Congress.
He warned that the amendment “would set back decades of labor law and was an attack on all working people, their rights and their jobs.”
The campaign to stop the Senate from weakening the NLRB is essential because the House already has passed legislation to prevent the agency from acting to defend workers in cases such as Boeing’s.
But efforts by CWA and other unions did make a difference. Despite the fact that House Republican leaders have effectively declared war on the NLRB, the lobbying campaign persuaded seven GOP representatives to join House Democrats in voting against the bill.