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

California Protects Precariat Workers

From the AFL-CIO

In a historic win for California’s workers, the California Legislature approved a bill Sept. 13 that makes the misclassification of employees as independent contractors more difficult.

Sponsored by the California Labor Federation, Assembly Bill 5 codifies and expands on a 2018 California Supreme Court decision.

The bill also will help curb the rampant exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers and give California’s working people the basic rights and protections we all deserve. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law.

 “The time is up for unscrupulous employers who claim their workers are ‘independent’ in order to cut corners on costs,”  California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez said about A.B. 5

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