Speaker Pelosi’s Coronavirus Bill Supported Labor Union Bosses, Not American Workers

Posted by Olivia Grady on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Permalink

On March 27, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the CARES Act, phase three of the COVID-19 response plan. This legislation, however, wasn’t the bill House Democrats, especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wanted. That bill, the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” was introduced on March 23rd, but it was too radical for the Senate and full of bad labor provisions designed to help labor union bosses at the expense of American workers.

While there were quite a few bad provisions in the 1,432-page bill, some labor provisions in the bill stood out.

One example was Division I called the “Financial Protections and Assistance for America’s Consumers, States, Businesses, and Vulnerable Populations Act.” Title IV of this division specified requirements for corporations that receive federal aid for coronavirus. One requirement forced these corporations to maintain their collective bargaining agreements until the end of the emergency. Another of these requirements was a $15 per hour minimum wage for both full-time and part-time employees. Corporations would have to fulfill this permanent requirement by January 1, 2021. This provision, however, would only lead to even more job losses than the ones that are already occurring. In fact, a 2019 Employment Policies Institute study found that a national $15 per hour minimum wage would cost up to two million jobs.

Division R, the “Aviation Worker Relief Act of 2020,” was another example where labor union bosses were getting help under the guise of helping American aviation workers and the airlines. For example, Section 201 of Title II forbade the President or any actor of the Federal government from requiring airlines to reduce labor costs or renegotiate their collective bargaining agreements before receiving aid. Further, Section 203 required those receiving aid to remain neutral on labor union elections, silencing their voices, while Section 205 required air carriers to designate a seat on their board of directors for a labor organization member or officer. Finally, like the corporations mentioned above, the airlines were also forced to pay a minimum of $15 per hour to their employees, including their independent contractors, for ten years.

A final example was Division P called the “Protecting Collective Bargaining and Official Time for Federal Workers Act.” This provision rescinded three Executive Orders by President Trump and a Presidential Memorandum issued to the Secretary of Defense on January 29, 2020. The three Executive Orders were issued on May 25, 2018. All three Executive Orders and the Presidential Memorandum were designed to protect federal workers and American taxpayers. The first Executive Order encouraged agencies to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with labor unions in less than a year. In 2016 alone, taxpayers paid union negotiators $16 million to negotiate these agreements. Shortening the timeframe for these negotiations would save taxpayer money. The Order also increased transparency for the workers by requiring federal collective bargaining agreements to be published online. 

The second Executive Order limited the amount of official time that federal workers can perform. Official time allows workers to perform union work while being paid by American taxpayers. The Office of Personnel Management estimated that payroll costs alone for federal workers on official time in 2016 were $177.2 million.

The final Executive Order streamlined the process to fire poorly performing federal employees. Before the Executive Order, it took 6 months to 1 year to remove a tenured federal employee for poor performance, plus an additional 8 months if there was an appeal. Some federal employees who stole agency property or were arrested for using drugs were not even fired. By removing bad employees, this Order strengthened the federal workforce and supported American taxpayers.

Finally, the January 29th Presidential Memo gave the Secretary of Defense authority to exclude Department of Defense agencies or subdivisions from collective bargaining. This memo is nothing new. In fact, since President Jimmy Carter, all Presidents have excluded agencies from collective bargaining. The purpose of this authority is to ensure our national security.

Americans today are making tremendous sacrifices to support one another. Shame on Speaker Nancy Pelosi for using this crisis to support herself.

Photo: Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco, CA / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)