Senate Debates Measure To Nullify Union Rules
"Employers always know what's going on and they have ample opportunity to express their views," said Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Democratic chairman of the Senate panel overseeing labor. He said the new rules "just give workers the ability to say yes or no without having to wait months or years to do so."
The new rules could help unions expand in the private sector, where membership has dwindled to about 6.9 percent of all workers.
Senate Republicans needed only 30 signatures to force a vote on the resolution under the Congressional Review Act. The White House said in a statement Monday that President Barack Obama's senior advisers would recommend he veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel said unions are confident they will win the vote in the Senate. "We really don't think the rule is in jeopardy," he said.The tactic to nullify regulations has succeeded only once since it was first permitted under the Congressional Review Act of 1996. In 2001, after President George W. Bush took office, Congress repealed ergonomic regulations that had been approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Bill Clinton. The union election measure already has the backing of 45 out of 47 Senate Republicans. Only GOP Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn't sign on as sponsors. They haven't stated publicly how they will vote. GOP leaders are hoping to win support from a handful of moderate Democrats, including Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., who have also not shared their position publicly. Tester, McCaskill and Brown all face tough re-election challenges in November. ___ Follow Sam Hananel's labor coverage on Twitter at http://twitter.com/shananel
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