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Cole Sides with American Workers Over Union Bosses

March 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday evening passed H.R. 842, related to the National Labor Relations Act. Cole opposed the legislation, which would usher in the most significant change to labor laws in 80 years. 

“While I certainly support the right of employees to join or form a union if desired, I cannot support legislation that would encourage intimidation tactics against those who choose not to,” said Cole. “If enacted, H.R. 842 would preempt every existing right to work law in 27 states, including Oklahoma, which importantly protect workers from the requirement of either becoming members of a union or paying fees to one. Indeed, at every turn, this misguided legislation blatantly prioritizes union bosses over the best interests of American workers.”

During consideration of H.R. 842 in the House Rules Committee earlier this week, Cole made remarks about the legislation. Transcript and video are available below.

I’d like to start with H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which if signed into law would be the single biggest change to our labor laws in 80 years.

The majority is selling H.R. 842 as an update to the National Labor Relations Act, but it is more accurate to call it a "union boss wish list." At every turn, the bill prioritizes union bosses over workers and businesses. And at every turn, it stacks the deck in favor of unionization.

Before I continue, I want to be clear that I support the right of employees to join together and form a union if they so choose. What I am not supportive of is allowing for tactics of intimidation, placing a thumb on the scale to prioritize the interests of union bosses over the interests of employees who choose not to form a union and overturning laws in 27 states who do not force unionization as a condition of employment.

Consider just some of the provisions in this bill. H.R. 842 removes protections for workers who choose not to share personally identifying information with union representatives. It also imposes a nationwide "card check" scheme, that would force a workplace to unionize upon receiving signed cards from 50 percent of employees without a secret ballot. Without personal protections and without a secret ballot, these two provisions make it all the more likely that workers will be harassed at home and at work until they agree to sign a unionization card, whether they truly want to or not.

But the bill doesn’t stop there. It preempts every single state right to work law, which protect workers from being required to become members of a labor organization or to pay fees to one. Twenty-seven states, including my own home state of Oklahoma, have such a law. The bill also changes the "joint employer" standard, overturning a decision of the National Labor Relations Board and making millions of employees of franchisees nationwide subject to this standard. And it reimposes an Obama-era rule allowing for the creation of "micro-unions," which would allow a unit smaller than a workplace to unionize.

At every turn, this bill prioritizes union bosses over workers. I think the House should take a long, hard look at the ramifications of this bill before voting on it, and I think the majority should rethink this scheme.