Senate rejects GOP bid to overturn new union rules

Sen. John Thune sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Now to Washington, where the Senate just rejected a GOP attempt to overturn new rules by the National Labor Relations Board, rules aimed at speeding up union elections by days or even weeks.

The new rules are set to kick in on Monday. South Dakota Senator John Thune was among 45 Republicans pushing for the vote.

Senator, it didn’t go your way, but now I am beginning to wonder, what is the workplace going to look like or do you fear it will look like come Monday?

SEN. JOHN THUNE. R-S.D.: Well, it will change a lot, obviously.

Of course, this rule was put in place toward the end the year, the final rule was. But essentially what we had hoped to be able to do, Neil, was to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from moving forward with this change because it would cram basically into a 10-day period the time in which an employer would have to schedule a union election.

Right now the average is 38 days. So imagine compressing the schedule like that. You can hardly find a lawyer in 10 days to represent you. This is a radical change and something that is very contrary to small businesses and their ability to create jobs and grow the economy.

It will increase the cost of doing business in this country. And I had hoped that today we would be able to get the votes to reverse that. Unfortunately, we got 45 votes in the United States Senate. And we found out, again, how important arithmetic and how important it is that at the ballot box that we win elections.

CAVUTO: There is a contrary school of thought on this, Senator -- I don’t know if you buy that -- that unions should be careful what they wish for and got, that speed may not be in their favor.

In other words, you cannot rush folks at a plant or factory or facility to unionize if they don’t want to.

THUNE: And that -- maybe that will be the -- I hope it is the case, I hope employees will push back against this.

But the reason the unions were so for this, Neil, is because if you look at the history as any indication here, when a union election occurs in 11 to 15 days, the unions win 87 percent of those. When they occur in 36 to 42 days, the number drops down to 58 percent.

And, so, clearly, they wanted to have this change, they think it will mean a lot more election victories. But this, really, is a solution in search of a problem, because if you look at the recent results of union elections, in 2011, the unions won 71 percent of those, and that was up 3.5 percent over the previous year. And this is not a problem.

This is something that big government and the labor bosses in this country have tried to put through in order to try and get more unionization in this country. It will be harder for small businesses, as I said, to deal with the addition costs of trying to deal with there and it will be harder for them to create jobs, no question about it.

CAVUTO: Well, obvious that is why many unions of course fear Mitt Romney, and he has already promised a crackdown on this. I know you and other leaders in the Senate have promised the same thing after today.

And they are pulling out all the stops; I think a $400 million ad campaign at a minimum, to help the president and Democrats to stay in power. This is going to get pretty ugly, isn’t it?

THUNE: It is. This is all about power.

And it clearly is a push right now, and you see this is pervasive within this administration. We see it in lots of different agencies, but the NLRB is a good example. They have got a whole series of things. We actually were able to defeat one of them at the Washington, D.C., circuit court here recently.

But most of these things that they are trying to jam through right now are all designed to grow the power of the special interests that drive the president and his agenda here in Washington, D.C. And that’s why I hope people across this country as they pay attention to these issues be prepared when the election comes in November of this year to make sure that we send a message that we want policies in place that will make it less expensive and less difficult for small businesses to create jobs, not more difficult, not putting more burdens and more impediments and more barricades in the way of small businesses.

That is exactly what the regulation will do and that will be the practical effect of it. But the political effect is, yes, it increases and concentrates more power with the unions and takes its away from employers and employees in the workplace.

CAVUTO: Senator, good seeing you again. Thank you very much.

THUNE: Thanks, Neil. Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: Senator John Thune. All right.

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