Dem measure looks to head off future GOP labor changes

Are Democrats afraid that the National Labor Relations Board's aggressive activism could backfire on unions the next time there is Republican administration? That is the implication of a little-noticed section in a Democratic labor policy reform bill that appears intended to prevent a future administration from changing workplace election rules.

The legislation from Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray, dubbed the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act, includes numerous pro-union changes to enhance the power of the federal government's main labor law enforcement agency. Murray and other fans highlighted sections during the bill's introduction last month that would triple the back pay awarded to illegally fired workers and make it easier for those workers to be reinstated.

One part Murray not highlighted was a section in the bill that says that all labor board-monitored workplace organizing elections, when workers officially vote on whether they want a union, must be based on "a majority of the valid votes cast." That is unusual because that is already the standard the board uses. Murray's bill, in short, would tell the labor board to do what it is already doing.

Murray's office did not respond to repeated requests from the Washington Examiner for clarification as to why the section is in there.

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James Sherk, labor policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the section appears to be in there to prevent a future Republican administration from requiring unions to win a majority of all employees in a workplace, not just the ones who show up to vote. That change could have a huge impact because turnout in workplace elections is often low.

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