House votes today on first part of GOP “jobs” plan

The first part of what the Republican Party calls its "jobs plan" is scheduled for a vote today in the House.

The measure, H.R. 3094, would deny workers the right to fair union elections by blocking changes proposed by the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year in the way union elections are conducted.

The GOP measure also gives companies a variety of new ways they can block or delay workplace elections. The bill establishes several new waiting periods before an election can be scheduled and it increases the number of ways companies can appeal NLRB decisions made before the elections are held.

Also, says the AFL-CIO, it allows employers, not workers and the union they wish to join, a bigger role in determining who is part of a bargaining unit.

That last part of the bill, unions note, will allow companies to include supervisors with a direct stake in opposing unionization to vote in a union election as part of the "regular" workforce.

On Thursday, Republicans will attempt, with a second measure, to destroy the government's ability to enforce rules designed to protect public health and safety and the environment.  With still a third measure on Friday, they will attempt to wipe out the government's ability to enforce any new regulations in the areas of health, safety and the environment.

The bills they will push later this week are the so-called Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 3010) and the REINS Act (H.R. 10).

"Repeatedly, Republican lawmakers have opposed jobs bills, including ones that would have put fire fighters, teachers and construction workers back to work. They have promised that they would produce a better jobs plan and this week we get to see it unfold," said AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director, William Samuel. "Republicans plan to create jobs by going after workers' rights and by gutting workplace and environmental safety and health laws. They really claim this is their jobs package."

Samuels said that he sent a letter to House lawmakers telling them that the Regulatory Accountability Act would "upend more than 40 years of labor, health, safety and environmental laws and threaten new protections."

The bill overrides requirements of current safety and health and environmental laws by making costs to companies, not protection of employees or the public, the primary concern.

The REINS Act, Samuels said, would take away the ability of federal health and safety regulators to implement any new rules by requiring Congress to approve all individual rules. Without such approval, any new rule would die.

The labor movement and its allies say that considering how Congress currently functions, putting it directly in charge of health and safety regulations would be akin to something like assigning a fox guard duty at a chicken coop.

They believe that science and professional expertise would be dismissed in the face of corporate opposition and that the public interest would take a back seat.

The Republican "jobs" plan does not stop with votes this week on H.R. 3094, and the Regulatory Accountability and REINS Acts. GOP lawmakers also have in the hopper bills that would either put a moratorium on any new safety, health or environmental protection regulations or even roll back major safety laws now in place.

The Republican position is that the attacks on workers' rights and health and safety rules would allow small businesses to get out from under what they say is the "burden" of regulations, allowing them to step up hiring.

A major survey of small business owners last month, however, showed that only 13.9 percent say the reason they are not hiring workers is because of government regulations. The majority said the problem is the economy and lack of demand.

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