Republicans see assaulting workers as more important than creating jobs

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Just days before Election Day, 2011, a national group devoted to workers rights has issued a scathing report about Republican intentions toward workers. Not happy with simply stripping collective bargaining rights - a move that GOP governors have pursued mercilessly, right-wing anti-worker legislators in Congress have, throughout 2011, continuously attacked the National Labor Relations Board, and labor law in the U.S., according to American Rights at Work.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that a Republican bill introduced after the NLRB complained that aviation giant Boeing punished workers for exercising their legal rights "is sweeping legislation that would gut the National Labor Relations Act and result in serious harmful changes to jobs and workers' rights throughout the country."

The NLRB's Boeing complaints revolved around the fact that the company moved production away from its Washington State facility in a retaliatory attack upon workers who were exercising their right to strike. Doing this to workers is clearly illegal.

But the new GOP bill - H.R. 2587 - would strip the NLRB of its authority to fix or take remedial action against unlawful conduct like Boeing is said to have taken part in. By transferring, subcontracting, or offshoring jobs, corporations would be free to strike back, without consequence, against workers.

"If a group of workers walk out of a plant because of unsafe working conditions," said Trumka, "The company could decide to move the work and the jobs rather than fix the problem, and the NLRB would be powerless to protect the workers and their jobs."

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) also noted earlier this year, during a press conference, that if the bill removed the NLRB's power to hold corporations accountable for their actions, it would trigger a "disastrous race to the bottom for American workers' rights, wages, benefits, and working conditions."

American Rights at Work says the GOP goal is clearly to destroy the labor movement altogether.

Zoe Bridges-Curry, in thegroup's recent report,  summarizes the series of assaults on workers and unions by Republican legislators. "They've introduced 24 bills and amendments," she said. "They've approved one continuing resolution; held eight hearings; and tied up the agency (NLRB) with eight threatening letters, four official requests for documents, and one subpoena - none of which created a single job. So it's clear that their ultimate aim is to eliminate the rights and protections that ensure [the working class] a fair share in the workplace."

If GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's classification of the NLRB as "labor stooges," is any indication, it would seem that Bridges-Curry has a correct assessment of the right wing's intent.

In fact, Romney - who holds personal investments in Boeing - outlined his supposed 'labor policy' in South Carolina in early September, putting his full support behind the Republican anti-NLRB bill.

Donna Dewitt, the South Carolina AFL-CIO President, remarked that Romney "seems more interested in cheap political points for his election bid, and supporting Boeing, than in talking with working families about their concerns for the creation of family-sustaining jobs.

"Throughout his campaign, Romney has shown that his priorities lie with corporations and the rich, not working people in South Carolina or across the country. Whether it is calling corporations 'people' in Iowa or defending law-breaker Boeing at the expense of workers here today, multimillionaire Romney has continued to prove he is out of touch with the struggles facing working families in America."

Photo: AFL-CIO blog