Democratic Leaders Promise to Block National Right-to-Work (For Less) Bill

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Democrats’ top two congressional leaders have told the Teamsters that they will do everything possible to block a proposed so-called “national right to work” bill from passing the GOP-run Congress.

But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made that pledge, she can do little to halt the legislation, authored by right-wing anti-worker and anti-Hispanic Rep. Peter King, R-Iowa.

The story is different with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Backed by his 46-member Democratic Caucus, plus two independents – Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders – who usually support Democratic positions, Schumer controls enough votes to sustain a filibuster. They can thus talk RTW to death.

Right-to-work, which workers and their allies call “right to work for less,” has been a key business and right wing cause for more than 70 years, but now it’s only allowed state-by-state, under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which emasculated U.S. labor law.

King wants to nationalize RTW. Other national Republicans agree. They would let non-union members covered by union contracts use union services – bargaining and grievances – without paying one red cent for them. That robs unions of needed money to defend all workers.

Schumer and Pelosi both told the Teamsters’ legislative and political coordinators, meeting in D.C. in June, that it was “a top priority of theirs to make sure so-called RTW doesn’t progress in Congress,” the union reported.

“I have union in my blood. We all know the middle class is declining,” Schumer said. “As long as I’m a leader in the Senate, they will not pass a national right-to-work law.”

Pelosi added that “The labor movement our country must not only survive, it must grow. We have to not only resist, but push back.”

The coordinators spent their time lobbying lawmakers on several issues. Besides opposing RTW, they advocated restricting unsafe and polluting Mexican trucks and ill-trained and ill-rested Mexican drivers to within 20 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border under any “new NAFTA,” reform of multi-employer pension funding, collective bargaining rights and fair trade.

Those issues, particularly pensions and NAFTA, particularly resonated with lawmakers, the union said. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told the coordinators that without the Mexican truck restrictions, any “new NAFTA” would fail because the GOP Trump administration would need some Democratic votes to pass it – and wouldn’t get them.

And Teamsters Joint Council 32 Political Director Edward Reynoso told the union his group stressed that message in meetings with Minnesota lawmakers, notably Rep. Rock Nolan, DFL-Minn., a former Teamster. “When it comes to the issues, they (legislators) need to hear from the local people,” Reynoso said.         

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work