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Collective bargaining rights are under attack — again

CLEVELAND, June 21 — An anti-union bill currently making its way through Congress seeks to undermine the rights of workers to bargain collectively under the guise of higher wages.

The cynically-named Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act, or RAISE Act, would amend Section 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to allow employers to ignore what they agree to in collective bargaining agreements. Introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as S. 3221, the bill would take away employees’ rights to negotiate contracts that create a uniform, fair process for granting wage increases. The dubious logic behind the bill is that employers are benevolent and generous supporters of their workers, and should be allowed the freedom to reward favored employees with higher raises. In reality, the legislation would give employers the ability to discriminate against employees by arbitrarily showing favoritism to one worker over another.

This legislation undermines the fairness that collective bargaining agreements bring to the workplace, opening the door to favoritism or discrimination based on race or gender.

In a letter to all members of the Senate, Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa wrote: “Make no mistake. The goal and purpose of this legislation is to end collective bargaining…. Nothing in the bill ties pay or benefit improvements in any way to individual achievement or success. The RAISE Act does nothing to guarantee an improvement of pay or benefits for workers. Rather it eliminates current built-in protections against favoritism and arbitrary action by companies. The RAISE is a green light for employers to violate contracts and ignore agreed upon wages and benefits for any reason. It is a ploy to divide workers.

“Let me be clear. This bill is not about giving American workers a raise. The RAISE Act should be recognized for what it is — another in a long line of devices, thinly veiled and sophisticated, to pit workers against each other, to weaken unions, and to destroy collective bargaining.”

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce blasted the proposal. “This is just the latest act of aggression in the War on Workers and the unions that represent them, and it is shameful that it comes from a man openly running to be his party’s nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States,” Pierce said. “While S. 3221 in its current form would not apply to railroad workers, who are not subject to the NRLA, it would require only an amendment to expose BLET members to the bill’s ‘bosses’ pet’ provision.”

General President Hoffa’s letter can be read/downloaded/printed here

Thursday, June 21, 2012
bentley@ble-t.org

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