The U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on a bill that could negatively impact American workers’ freedoms and lead to fewer jobs. Heavily backed by large labor unions throughout the drafting process, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act would give sweeping new powers to unions while putting constraints on individual employees, small and local businesses, entrepreneurs and consumers.
The legislation includes provisions that would strip away workers’ free choice in union elections and eliminate “right-to-work” protections for workers across the country. This would even include the 27 states that have already passed right-to-work laws—rolling back these states’ democratic decisions and forcing workers across the country to pay union fees out of their own pockets—even when they don’t support it. In addition, the legislation could interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it harder for businesses to secure important legal advice on matters involving complex labor law.
“This legislation has the potential to harm workers across the country—and presupposes that a sweeping federal law can better achieve fairness and prosperity for individual states, businesses and workers than decisions made by those entities themselves,” said Callie Harman, director of labor policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “This is a legislative wish list for unions that would damage employees’ rights to privacy and association, limit businesses’ ability to grow and hire, and put in place policies that have already been rejected in the courts. Legislation like this threatens the very industries that benefit our communities and strengthen our country.”
Manufacturers nationwide are speaking out against the bill, saying that the legislation strips workers of essential rights and ignores the dangerous consequences for the United States economy. They warn that if the legislation were to be adopted, it would tilt the playing field in favor of union organizers and against workers and employers while increasing the authority of unelected bureaucrats in Washington at the expense American free enterprise.
“At a time when the manufacturing industry is showing record output and fueling a strong economy, these changes could upend progress and slam the brakes on our economic success,” said Harman. “Workers deserve the kind of opportunity that the manufacturing industry is making possible, and we will continue to fight for that freedom in the face of these challenges.”
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.