NLRB Moves to Punish Right-to-Work States and their Businesses
The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Boeing Company on the grounds that the company’s relocation of its second airplane production line was motivated by discrimination toward union workers. If the NLRB’s case succeeds in federal court, it will set a precedent for union control of virtually every major business decision by American corporations.
Prior to October 2009, Boeing had planned to expand its production capabilities with an additional facility in the state of Washington. In recent years, the company had suffered billions in lost revenue and uncertainty of future orders due to multiple extended strikes orchestrated by the International Association of Machinists. Although it was not legally obligated to do so, Boeing invited IAM to the table in a bid to preserve their plans for local expansion without danger of future union disruption. Negotiations broke down upon union demands for Boeing neutrality in nationwide IAM campaigns and for all of the company’s future commercial airline manufacture to be located in Puget Sound. Having come to an impasse, Boeing subsequently decided to base its second production line in North Charleston, South Carolina (a Right-to-Work state).
In March 2010, the IAM filed a charge of “unfair labor practices” with the NLRB, the meat of their argument being that Boeing illegally changed factory locations out of animus against the union. On April 20th of this year, the NLRB published its own complaint against Boeing, citing several so-called “incidents” demonstrating the company’s bias. Three of them are merely newspaper reports, while only two are intramural documents and quotations. What the NLRB finds damning is their common account of Boeing’s business decision as a move to avoid future complications with uncooperative unions, which it undoubtedly was. The IAM, now joined by their shills at the NLRB, somehow interpret this fact as evidence that Boeing is using blind discrimination rather than plain fiscal sense to determine its corporate policy.
The NLRB’s pursuance of this case is a blatant attack on any business decision in the nation that somehow displeases Big Labor, as well as an affront to states like South Carolina which have taken a pro-business stance. Boeing has already poured millions into its North Charleston location, and thousands of locals stand to lose their jobs if the plant closes. The South Carolina plant took away no pre-existing jobs from Puget Sound residents; indeed, IAM has added 2000 members through increased employment in Boeing’s Washington operation. That the NLRB should show hostility towards states and businesses which fail to push unionization upon their workers is nothing new, but this expression of the trend is unprecedented: if it is in the best interest of your business to walk away from collective bargaining, the federal government will interpret this as irrational discrimination and destroy you. In the words of Senator Jim Demint (R-S.C.):
“There is no doubt that if the National Labor Relations Board’s claim against Boeing moves forward, it will have a chilling effect on job growth in my state and in right-to-work states across the country. Using the federal government as political weapon to protect union bosses at the expense of American jobs cannot be tolerated.”
Let us hope that congress indeed finds it intolerable. If, in the next ten or twenty years, union agitators discover that all of their employers have packed up and moved to China, they will have no one to blame but themselves.
Rep. Runyan Votes for Jobs, Energy
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) voted for three bills which will spur investment in the Gulf of Mexico and put Americans back to work, while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The bills, which were introduced by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), are intended to reverse the Obama Administration’s various moratoriums on offshore leasing and oil exploration.
The legislation Rep. Runyan supported cannot be ratified soon enough:
- There will be no offshore lease sales this year—the last time this happened was 1958.
- According to the Administration moratorium on deepwater drilling has caused the loss of nearly 12,000 jobs—the number is surely higher
- The Department of Interior’s de-facto moratorium on shallow water drilling will eliminate an additional 36,000 jobs over the next 18 months
Specifically, Rep. Runyan voted for:
- The Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act, which requires the Administration to proceed with the 2012-2017 lease plan for offshore drilling.
- The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, which reverses President Obama’s de-facto moratorium on drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, which resurrects prematurely canceled or delayed offshore lease sales in on the coast of Virginia and in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Congressman Runyan should be congratulated for standing up for American businesses and their workers,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “It is unfortunate that many of his peers on Capitol Hill don’t share this conviction, preferring to hamstring our economy and keep thousands of jobs unnecessarily pending. With gas prices skyrocketing and unemployment persistently high, Rep. Runyan acutely voted to remedy these problems”
Unions to Soak Virginians Through Project Labor Agreements
While Virginia has largely managed to stave off the economic distress experienced by California and Illinois, its citizens may soon be forced to swallow precisely the sort of uncompetitive, tax-raising policy which has contributed to the downfall of more prodigal states.
The massively expensive construction of a Dulles Rail line for the Metro transit system has been a controversial local issue for some time. Recently, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Board of Directors announced their decision to construct Phase 2 of the operation as a tunnel, which bumps the overall cost of the project up by $330 million. Garnering less attention, but of even greater moment, is a resolution passed by the MWAA requiring that construction proceed in accordance with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As the Alliance for Worker Freedom has previously reported, such legal compacts unnecessarily exclude non-union labor from contracting at the state and federal level, bleeding taxpayers for jobs that should have gone to the lowest capable bidders.
Adding insult to injury, a majority of the board members are not even Virginia residents. Taxpayers in Loudon County, Fairfax County, and across the Commonwealth of Virginia will have to pay overcompensated union members’ salaries on the whim of the unaccountable MWAA. As of February 2011, Virginia’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent below the national average. This is in part due to the Commonwealth being a “Right-to-Work” state, which has resulted in a mere 4% of its private workforce being unionized. As a consequence, the impending PLA mandate will favor out-of-state labor, excluding Virginia residents from construction jobs near their own homes.
The costs of this project are already $3.5 billion. If the PLA proposal stands, this number could be raised by 20%. Hopefully Virginians will take action before Big Labor interests take their money and put them out of jobs.
Upcoming CR a Boon for American Energy
The long-awaited Congressional Resolution funding FY 2011, its latest iteration a product of eleventh-hour haggling between party leaders, is set for votes in the House and Senate on Wednesday. If passed, the legislation stands to lessen federal regulatory burdens upon American energy producers, and preempt the implementations of harsh new ones.
The 2011 budget, which is expected to pass both chambers tomorrow, contains $38.5 billion in federal cuts. Some of these excisions have been targeted at the various environmental initiatives pushed by the Obama administration which would kill jobs, depress the economy, and heighten dependence on foreign energy. Here are some highlights:
- The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will be cut down to $8.7 billion, a 16% decrease from last year’s. Given the EPA’s recent shenanigans, the message from Congress is clear: we’re watching you.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will take a $140 million cut, bucking its request for a $1 billion increase. Two related provisions prevent the creation of a National Climate Service and forbid NOAA’s proposed cap-and-trade scheme for domestic fisheries.
- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be forbidden from classifying certain areas as “wildlands,” a designation that overlaps congressionally determined “wildernesses” and quashes local energy exploration.
Energy Tax Prevention Act Passes House, Fails in Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. The same measure, introduced by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as an amendment to the SBIR/STTR Reauthorizationbill, failed in the Senate by a tied vote. This legislation was designed primarily to curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation of greenhouse gasses.
As Americans for Tax Reform has previously reported, the last few years have seen the power of the EPA expand through a litany of invasive and economically disastrous rulings. In the words of Grover Norquist, President of ATR, “the EPA is citing the Clean Air Act as justification for its dubious agenda. Employing the Clean Air Act for objectives it was never intended to realize, the EPA has infringed on the legislative responsibilities of Congress.” The Upton-Inhofe proposal was specifically tailored to pre-empt Agency overreach by returning authority over the America’s climate policy to Congress. Constitutional issues aside, an unchecked EPA is expected to lose billions in revenue and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide.
Congratulations are due to the Democrat members of both chambers who had enough sense to buck their party’s Big Green Government ideology. In the senate, only four Democrats voted for the McConnell amendment: Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin, Ben Nelson, and Mark Pryor. Apparently seeking to return the favor, Susan Collins (R-Maine) went turncoat and deprived her party of a majority, sinking the initiative at 50-50. Then again, maybe Sen. Collins thinks that Maine has too many jobs, and that EPA interference is a convenient solution. You can ask her by calling (202) 224-2523.
Wyden-Coates Tax Plan Would Hit American Energy Sector
In an attempt to combat America’s inexplicably complicated tax code, Sens. Wyden (D-Ore.) and Coats (R-Ind.) have introduced the “Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011,” S. 727. Looking to bring down the corporate rate to 24 percent from 35 percent, currently the world’s highest rate, the bill offsets the cost of that reduction through various repeals and modifications. While reducing the corporate rate is a laudable goal, S. 727 does so at the expense of America’s energy companies—repealing or modifying key tax policies employed by the industry.
Decreasing International Competition
Modification of Dual-Capacity:S. 727 would limit the foreign tax credit for large integrated oil companies resulting in double taxation for American based companies. In order to keep American oil and natural gas companies internationally competitive and to encourage them to bring earnings back to the United States, US tax rules allow for these companies to employ a tax credit equal to the amount of income taxes actually paid to foreign governments. S. 727 exposes these profits to international double taxation.
Unnecessarily crippling US based energy producers, American oil and natural gas companies would be forced to pay higher tax rates than their international competitors. Unable to compete with foreign, state-owned companies, American oil and natural gas companies would inevitably have to scale back development of international markets. With thousands of American jobs buoyed by foreign exploration, S. 727 would necessarily result in domestic job loss and increase our dependence on foreign oil.
Inhibiting Domestic Production
Percentage Depletion Repeal:Percentage depletion allows oil and natural gas producers to deduct the gross income derived from extracting fossil fuels—S. 727 would eliminate this method of cost recovery. Without this tax policy, it may take years for oil and natural gas companies to recuperate their investments needlessly tying up capital that could be used for other job creating projects.
Section 199 Repeal:Section 199, the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, benefits all companies who produce goods on American soil. Currently, American energy and natural gas companies are able to deduct six percent of their profits from their taxable income the year they were earned. S. 727 would repeal Sec 199 for all companies upending longstanding tax policy.
Supporting more than 9.2 million domestic jobs, America’s oil and natural gas producers are a pivotal part of the American economy. Although tax reform which lowers rates, broadens the base, and simplifies the code is necessary, conservatives should be wary of legislation that does so at the expense of one of our nation’s most productive industries—energy producers.
California Senate Passes Card Check
In what was, unfortunately, not an April Fools’ joke, last Friday the California Senate approved S.B. 104, an initiative which will enable union intimidation of workers and tilt the playing-field toward Big-Labor. The legislation passed on a party-line vote, with Senate Democrats carrying the day, 24-14.
The bill would legalize “Card Check,” a union election process which eliminates secret ballots at the whim of those employees wishing to unionize. Although touted by the left as a great advance for workers’ rights (a failed federal version was the misleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act), Card Check is nothing of the sort. As the Alliance for Worker Freedom has previously reported, the absence of a secret ballot, as well as a requirement that employers furnish union organizers with the personal information of their employees (which S.B. 104 contains) invites union bosses to conduct elections with all the grace and legality of the SEIU.
It is all the more befuddling that many supporters of Card Check so recently lobbied the National Mediation Board to implement a “minority rule” in transportation-sector elections; this was on the grounds that the change would make certification votes akin to standard congressional elections. If these progressives were at all consistent in their positions, a secret ballot would be sacrosanct, being the gold-standard of democratic parity. Of course, parity is not the goal of the unions, nor of the politicians they spend millions to elect: their endgame is total control of the American workforce by union interests.
California, once one of the most prosperous states in the union, has quickly undergone a self-imposed transition to debt-ridden bankruptcy, its legislators repeatedly turning a blind eye to harsh economic realities. Job-killing environmental policies, unreformed entitlements, and deluxe public employee benefits, paid for by ever-higher taxes, have made the Golden State a bad place to do business. That California’s Democrats should make union empowerment a priority instead of tackling actual problems exposes their real operating principle here: when Leftist policies put you in a hole, say “what hole?” and keep digging.
FAA Reauthorization Bill: Vote Results
Today the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed the House of Representatives. As ATR has previously reported, the last few weeks have seen efforts on the part of House conservatives to implement important labor reforms through provisions in and amendments to the bill. Here’s an update on how they fared:
1) Title IX. Status: passed.
Designed to repeal a National Mediation Board ruling unilaterally amending the Railway Labor Act (a law that provides for special regulation of transportation workers), which reversed over 75 years of regulatory precedent. Under the old rules, rail and air travel employees wanting to unionize had to garner a majority of votes amongst the total body of workers. Last spring’s NMB decision mandated that a union could receive a majority only of voting employees in order to be certified, raising the possibility that a tiny minority of workers could compel an entire workforce to unionize against the will of its greater part. Title IX restores the old standard, while mandating a yearly audit of the NMB. Congratulations to the House for this one: now the regulators-in-chief know they’re being watched.
2) Amendment No. 18 (Federal Employee Accountability Act) Status: failed.
Designed to prevent government employees from conducting union-related activities while on the clock. Had it passed, Rep. Gingrey’s (R-Ga.) amendment would have preserved “official time” from “the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement, if commenced before suchdate of enactment; any proceeding before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, if commenced before such date of enactment; or any other matter pending on such date of enactment, in connection with which any official time has been used or granted before such date.” According to the Office of Personnel Management, FY 2008 saw union business eat up 3 million hours of federal employees’ time, totaling $120 million in wasted taxpayer funds. Passage should have been a no-brainer; one wonders if the representatives who opposed it would be just as eager to allow their staffers to waste work hours on personal business.
For the record, here are a few Republicans who should have known better:
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla. 21st)
Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo. 8th)
Chris Gibson (R-N.Y. 20th)
Michael Grimm (R-N.Y. 13th)
Tim Johnson (R-Ill. 15th)
Walter B. Jones (R-N.C. 3rd)
Pete King (R-N.Y. 3rd)
Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio 14th)
Frank LoBiondo (R-N.Y. 2nd)
Todd Russell Platts (R-Pa. 19th)
David Reichert (R-Wash. 8th)
David Rivera (R-Fla. 25th)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla. 18th)
Jon Runyan (R.-N.J. 3rd)
Chris Smith (R-N.J. 4th)
Don Young (R-Alaska: at large)
Obama Threatens Veto of FAA Reauthorization Bill
Yesterday the Obama administration released a statement through the Office of Management and Budget threatening a presidential veto of the FAA Reauthorization bill. This move was precipitated by an amendment to the bill which seeks to overturn the recent "minority rule" by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
As AWF and ATR have previously reported, last spring the NMB announced a ruling unilaterally amending the Railway Labor Act (a law that provides for special regulation of transportation workers), reversing over 75 years of regulatory precedent. Under the old rules, rail and air travel employees wanting to unionize had to garner a majority of votes amongst the total body of workers. The new NMB decision mandated that a union could receive a majority only of voting employees in order to be certified, raising the possibility that a tiny minority of workers could compel an entire workforce to unionize against the will of its greater part. This policy change came about due to the efforts of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a collective bargaining organization which tried and failed—multiple times—to unionize Delta Airlines employees. The AFA then petitioned the NMB to tilt the playing field, and the Board was only too happy to oblige.
Now the Obama administration is faced with the FAA bill's Title IX provision, which stands to reverse the NMB's hard work on behalf of Big Labor. The administration's memorandum claims "by treating non-votes as “no” votes, the provision would prohibit workers in the airline and railroad industries from voting whether to join a union on the same basis – majority rule – as most other industries." Of course it does, Mr. President, precisely because the transportation sector is so radically vital and different from other industries. In addition, unionization should not be a thing against which workers must constantly defend themselves; the "burden of proof" should lie upon the organizers who must convince a majority of all employees to agree to certification. The perversity of the NMB's ruling is apparent from the AFA howling that Delta informed its employees too-well about the election. If the union bosses had their druthers, no worker would know anything about unionization until it was too late to vote against it (which Americans have been overwhelmingly doing, in recent years).
Americans for Tax Reform Supports "Three-D" Act
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, has written an open letter to Senators urging them to support the "Three-D: Domestic Energy, Domestic Jobs and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011." If passed, this legislation could spur $10 trillion in additional economic activity, $2.3 trillion in government revenue, and 2 million jobs for American workers:
"A reintroduction of the “No Cost Stimulus Act of 2009,” the Three-D Act is intended to liberate American industry through commonsense regulatory reform. Over the last several years, businesses have found themselves hamstrung due to the efforts of unelected federal bureaucrats whose ideological attachment to the agenda of “Big Green” government has found expression through a litany of oppressive and unnecessary regulations. This is precisely what Sen. Vitter intends to fix.
"His bill operates on several levels. First of all, it puts a leash on the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal departments, which have been gradually usurping Congressional authority by unilaterally determining the boundaries of their own jurisdiction. If passed, The Three-D Act would force the EPA and Department of the Interior to reissue unfairly revoked business permits, expedite the judicial review process for energy projects, and amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit regulation of greenhouse gasses.
"As it stands, the current administration has ignored judicial instructions to proceed with offshore drilling permits and maintains an illegal moratorium on the practice. The Three-D Act would promote energy independence by directing the Secretary of the Interior to open up Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) planning areas to commercial interests. Finally, the Three-D Act will prevent environmental NGO’s from receiving legal fees from the Judgment Fund if their litigation is intended to prevent access to energy resources or diminish private property value."