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Ranking Member Cassidy Delivers Remarks During Hearing on Labor Relations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks during today’s hearing on labor relations in the United States. He spoke to the importance of defending the rights of all workers, including those who exercise their right to choose to not join a union. Cassidy also discussed how the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would take away this right. Additionally, Cassidy sounded the alarm on the weaponization of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against employers.

Click here to watch the hearing live.

There are 76,000 union workers in Louisiana. Being a right-to-work state means that these workers have the right, and chose being in a union as best for their career. I support them, and I’m proud that they have the ability to make that decision. That is what being a right-to-work state is about.

Now, the majority’s title and framing of today’s hearing as defending the right of workers to organize leaves out an important other side of the coin. Defending the rights of workers also includes defending those who choose it is not in their best interest to form or join a union.

They may decide that a union limits their work flexibility or eliminates the ability to be rewarded. Based upon individual talent as opposed to just seniority. Maybe they don’t want part of their paycheck being used to pay six figure salaries of union leaders or to support political activism with which they vehemently disagree.

Please, let’s not confuse being pro-union with being pro-worker. Being pro-worker is about supporting all workers and all workers’ right to choose what is best for their career.

We’re seeing a concerning trend that attempts to erode workers’ rights. It might be administrative action, or it might be the introduction of the PRO Act. These efforts are not about supporting the rights of workers. The intent is to force workers into unions to prop up and support the power of big, politically-connected unions.

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the National Labor Relations Board concerning the weaponization of its enforcement power and targeting of high profile employers on behalf of the same well-connected unions.

The purpose of the NLRB is to provide an unbiased framework to review disputes between employees and employers. But this is not what we are seeing.

Last week, a Michigan court denied the NLRB request for a nationwide cease-and-desist order in Kerwin v. Starbucks because NLRB did not have sufficient evidence supporting a claim against the employer. Let’s repeat.  The NLRB claimed a company was employing a nationwide anti-union policy. And by the way, the title of this hearing kind of echoes that claim but their claim lacks sufficient evidence to justify the accusation.

What is really concerning is that an NLRB hearing officer recently substantiated voting irregularities at a Starbucks in Kansas that could potentially elevate the misconduct on behalf of the NRLB employees. This includes NLRB staff, providing duplicate ballots, supplying union organizers with confidential voter information and providing voter accommodations to employees selected by the union without offering them to all employees.

All these actions are in direct violation of federal law and the NLRB has written guidelines. I’m not here to defend any company. No one is above our nation’s laws. This includes the NLRB.

Today we’ll hear a lot about the PRO Act. To make one thing clear, the PRO Act is not pro-worker it is pro-big union.

It gets rid of the secret ballot elections for unionization, the gold standard to keep somebody from being put into a corner and intimidated until they vote the way the intimidator wishes them to vote. And it protects them from retaliation if they choose to go the different way.

The PRO Act would make workers in my home state of Louisiana and 27 other Right to Work states vulnerable to forced unionization. If they want to, more power to them and I am for them, but if they choose not to, they should not be coerced and have part of their paychecks taken to inflate a union’s coffers.

By the way, if workers don’t have a choice of whether to join, then the union no longer has any obligation to respond to the views of those whom they represent. And I think that might be related to the disconnect we’ve seen between the political positions of union members and the political positions taken by their leadership.

I ask my colleagues that we not conflate being pro-union with being pro-worker. We must support all workers, those who want to be in a union and those who do not.

With that, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.




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