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Senate Republicans Have Big Plans For Big Labor

With Republicans about to take over the Senate, one of the new majority’s priorities is reforming a federal board that helps decide disputes between unions and businesses.

The Democratic-dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been accused of being too biased in favor of liberal policies and labor unions. To address this, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander — the incoming chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over labor issues — has introduced the National Labor Relations Board Reform Act.

The bill, which was introduced in September, is designed to prevent one party from taking majority control by expanding the board from five members to six and requiring equal representation by both major parties.

In a statement, Sen. Alexander explained, “Thousands of private-sector workers in Tennessee are affected by decisions made at the National Labor Relations Board—which for too long has been acting as an advocate for one interest or another instead of an impartial umpire.”

“The board is too partisan, swinging from one side to the other with each new administration—taking employers and employees on a wild ride” he continued. “And while this didn’t start with President Obama, it’s gotten worse as he’s loaded the board with union insiders.”

Sen. Alexander concluded, “It’s time for the board to restore stability to workplaces in Tennessee and throughout the country—with nonpartisan decisions made more quickly, assisted by a neutral general counsel.”

The Protecting American Jobs Act also seeks to reform the NLRB. The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee is designed to repeal the authority of the general counsel of the NLRB so that it can no longer issue, and prosecute unfair labor practice complaints.

Republicans are likely to tackle labor unions as well. The Union Transparency Act, which was introduced by South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, would amend the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 to require every labor organization and its employees to file financial reports annually with the secretary of labor. The act will also require unions to disclose the information with their members.

The Republican Senate could also tackle prevailing wage laws. Such wage laws apply to construction and similar contractors who are working under a government contract to establish a standard rate of pay. The Davis-Bacon Repeal Act will change that practice by repealing prevailing wage laws.

Sen. Lee explained in a statement, “The Davis-Bacon Act exemplifies how big government hurts the people it purports to help, gives unfair advantages to favored special interests, and squeezes the middle class.”

“It crowds out low-skilled workers in the construction industry, preventing them from getting a fair shot at a job, and funnels taxpayer money to prop up big labor unions, which accrue windfall profits as Davis-Bacon removes the incentive for federal contractors to hire unskilled, non-unionized workers” he concluded.

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