Miller: GOP’s Job Outsourcers’ Bill of Rights is a Reckless Assault on Working Americans

Sep 15, 2011 Issues: Labor, Jobs and Job Training, Worker Rights

WASHNIGTON – Below are the prepared House floor remarks of Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, on H.R. 2587, the GOP’s Job Outsourcers’ Bill of Rights

***
 
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2587.  
 
This special interest bill is a job killer. It was spurred by a particular case, involving a Fortune 500 corporation, the Boeing Company. But this bill is not just about Boeing.
 
All working people across this country should pay careful attention to this bill and to this debate. Because this is about them. This bill takes away every working American’s rights.
 
It puts their job, their wages, and their benefits on the chopping block. And it’s not about creating jobs.  It’s about subcontracting, outsourcing, and eliminating jobs.
 
Mr. Speaker, workers have had the right to organize since 1935.  They have the right to join together and fight for a better future for themselves and their families. And it has been the law of the land that employers cannot retaliate against workers for exercising that right.
 
Employers cannot fire workers for exercising that right. They cannot subcontract or outsource work just because workers exercise that right. If they do, workers have a right to redress.
 
For more than 70 years, the National Labor Relations Board has taken issue with that kind of retaliation. If employers are proven to have retaliated against workers for exercising the right to organize, the Board is empowered to make workers whole.
 
But not under this bill.  
 
Under this bill, workers would not be able to be made whole anymore.
 
Under this bill, a company can retaliate against a worker for trying to organize a union. The employer could layoff that worker and subcontract their work out. 
 
A company can bust a union by setting up a shell company down the street and send all the work there until all of the union employees have lost their jobs. Workers would be out of luck because the NLRB would be prohibited from ordering the work returned to those now-unemployed workers. 
 
Under this bill, if a company wants to bust a union by outsourcing its work to China, this bill permits it. Workers would be powerless to stop that outsourcing.
 
This legislation ought to be called by its rightful name -- The Outsourcers’ Bill of Rights.  It says that no one can stop a company from illegally outsourcing jobs.  
 
Under current law, any business can already move work wherever it wants to, for nearly any reason, or no reason at all. And companies do it all the time. But they cannot move work for an illegal reason. Retaliating against American citizens for exercising their rights is one of those illegal reasons.
 
That’s what Boeing is accused of doing – retaliating against its employees for engaging in protected activity. That is illegal.  
 
And this bill takes away these employees’ right to a fair day in court to prove their case. It rushes to protect Boeing from the consequences of breaking the law.  
 
The bill assumes Boeing must be guilty since it eliminates the remedy for that guilt. And it does so to the detriment of all American workers.
 
This bill strips workers in South Carolina of their rights against unlawful outsourcing. It takes away the rights of workers in Minnesota, Tennessee, California, and Ohio. It takes away the rights of nurses, construction workers, janitors, engineers, and office workers.
 
It sends a message to employers to retaliate against employees who may demand a piece of the American dream. Retaliate against them with impunity if they want to seek better wages and benefits, or a safer workplace.
 
Mr. Speaker, enough is enough.
 
Enough of the favors to well-connected and those who are already ahead. Enough of making working people take it on the chin from this Congress. Enough trampling on the aspirations of middle class Americans who work hard, play by the rules, and hope to get ahead.
 
This bill is not about Boeing.  Boeing is just an excuse used by Republicans to strip all Americans of their basic, hard-won rights. It’s an excuse to strip Americans of whatever leverage they might have left to save their jobs and stay in the middle class – a middle class that made America strong.
 
This bill sends the most cynical message to Americans -- that you can have your rights, or you can have your job. But you can’t have both. 
 
As members of Congress, we should be working to create jobs, not send American jobs overseas. We should be working to strengthen the middle class, not tear it down. We should be working together to send the message that, during these most difficult economic times, Congress is on the side of the middle class.
 
That Congress believes in them and understands that it is their hard work and loyalty that has made America the greatest nation in the world. And it is their hard work and loyalty that will keep us the greatest nation on Earth.
 
I urge my colleagues to vote NO on this special interest bill.  
 
Vote NO on this reckless assault on working Americans and our way of life.  
 
Vote NO on this outsourcers’ bill of rights.