Handful of GOP Senators Woo Union Kingpins

Federal Union Monopoly Threatens State, Local Public Employees

(Source: July 2010 NRTWC Newsletter)

Just before the U.S. Congress adjourned for a week-long Independence Day recess, Big Labor House members rubber-stamped legislation that would federally impose union monopoly bargaining over state and local public-safety employees.

The legislation (H.R.413), cynically mislabeled as the “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act,” would, at a time when government budget deficits are already sky high, hobble the ability of states and localities to keep their expenditures of taxpayer dollars under control.

Incredibly, the House voted July 1 to attach this scheme to a massive spending bill that provides funding for U.S. troops. The Senate is expected to take up this war supplemental bill, with H.R.413 attached, some time this month.

H.R.413 would empower Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) bureaucrats to survey all 50 states and identify which have failed to meet the legislation’s “core standards.”

And the key “core standard” is mandatory union monopoly bargaining. Localities in all 50 states would be denied the option to refuse to grant a single public-safety union the power to speak for all front-line employees, including those who don’t want to join.

Bill ‘Further Empowers An Already Strong Lobby’

Monopoly bargaining, euphemistically labeled as “exclusive representation,” would be foisted on police, firefighters, and other public-safety employees nationwide. And in most states that already authorize public-safety union monopoly bargaining, H.R.413 would widen its scope.

As Wall Street Journal reporter Kris Maher recently noted, under this legislation, if any state refused to institute monopoly bargaining and comply with other mandates, FLRA bureaucrats “would step in and implement” them themselves.

A wide spectrum of political observers, inside the D.C. Beltway and around the country, have blasted H.R.413 and its Senate companion, S.3194, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as a budget-busting power grab.

For example, last month both the liberal Washington Post and the conservative National Review ran editorials urging Congress to block H.R.413/S.3194.

“What this bill would do,” charged the Post’s editors, “is impose a permanent, one-size-fits-all federal solution in an area — public-sector labor relations — that has traditionally been left to the states, and where state flexibility is probably more necessary than ever. . . . The bill further empowers an already strong lobby . . . .”

The editors of National Review (online edition) were even more forthright:

“Government employees’ unions already maintain a death grip on the finances of most state and local governments, and a remarkably bad piece of legislation — the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act — threatens to tighten that stranglehold . . . .”

Of course, the fact that liberal, conservative and moderate analysts recognize H.R.413/S.3194 as bad in principle and extraordinarily ill-timed doesn’t trouble Mr. Reid and union-label Democratic Congressman Dale Kildee (Mich.), the lead sponsor of the House legislation.

Harry Reid Cannot Prevail Without GOP Collaborators

The bottom line for them is that their legislation would empower and enrich union officials who are one of the Democratic Party’s “most important constituencies,” as National Review’s editors put it.

However, Democratic politicians, despite controlling the White House and substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, cannot make Kildee-Reid the law of the land all on their own.

At this writing, due to the death late last month of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mr. Reid’s majority caucus consists of 58 senators, 56 Democrats plus pro-forced unionism “Independents” Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

But, regardless of the total number of senators at any time, it takes 60 to bring up a piece of legislation for a final vote if opponents seek to block it by launching an extended debate.

And the National Right to Work Committee, which is leading the opposition to Kildee-Reid on Capitol Hill, and its Senate allies already have a plan in place to sustain an extended debate against this legislation.

That’s why Harry Reid must pick up several GOP votes, while holding on to the votes of several Democrats from strong Right to Work states, in order to ram H.R.413 through the Senate.

“At this time, six GOP senators are sponsoring S.1611, monopoly-bargaining legislation that is virtually identical to the Reid bill,” noted Right to Work President Mark Mix.

“To thwart the federalization of union monopoly control over public-safety officers, Right to Work supporters must convince at least three of these senators to back away from their support for this scheme, and also convince at least two or three Democrats to oppose H.R.413.

“One Senate Democrat, North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, has already said publicly she will oppose the Police/Fire Monopoly-Bargaining Bill, even though she usually votes with Big Labor. She reiterated her opposition just last month.”

History Shows Appeasement Won’t Insulate GOP Politicians

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)

“Committee leaders are hopeful that, if pro-Right to Work constituents keep raising the pressure, they can ensure that Ms. Hagan keeps her word, and that a couple of other Democrats join her in opposing H.R.413,” Mr. Mix continued.

“But that won’t be enough to defeat the Kildee-Reid bill unless several would-be GOP appeasers of Big Labor reconsider their support for expanding government union bosses’ monopoly privileges.

“Right now, freedom-loving constituents are turning up the heat on all six GOP sponsors of S.1611, especially Sens. Scott Brown [Mass.], Mike Johanns [Neb.], and Lisa Murkowski [Alaska].

“Right to Work supporters are also reminding these senators that, in 2008 alone, four GOP senators who had tried to appease Big Labor by cosponsoring the 2007-2008 version of the Police/Fire Monopoly-Bargaining Bill were tossed out by their constituents.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

“History shows forced-unionism appeasement won’t insulate politicians from Big Labor attacks — but will anger their constituents.”

Bill Would Pave Way For Union Monopoly Control Over All Public Employees

Mr. Mix acknowledged that Right to Work supporters face an uphill battle to block H.R.413 in the Senate. But this power grab is so dangerous, he added, that Committee members must do everything possible to stop it.

“Kildee/Reid would constitute a major step towards Big Labor’s decades-old goal of enacting a federal law that foists union monopoly bargaining on front-line state and local employees of all types across America.

“As union bigwig Anna Burger, head of the ‘Change to Win’ union conglomerate, recently boasted, H.R.413/S.3194 would ‘create a national collective,’ i.e., monopoly, ‘bargaining standard for all public workers.’

“In other words, if Congress federalizes union monopoly control over public-safety employees, the federalization of union monopoly bargaining over teachers, and state and local public servants of every other kind, will be next.

“Enactment of H.R.413/S.3194 would deal a harsh blow to the Right to Work cause. I know Committee members and supporters across the country understand that fact, and will do all they can to stop this legislation.”