House Budget Bill Guts Worker Protections

Policies Are for the Top 1 Percent, Against the Other 99 Percent

The House majority’s draft bill is an assault on American workers, plain and simple, explain David Madland and Karla Walter.

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The House majority just released a draft budget bill that significantly ups the ante in what has become an unmitigated attack on working Americans. Basic rights to a safe workplace, pay for hours worked, and the ability to join with coworkers in a union are at risk because the bill—which provides fiscal year 2012 funding for the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board, as well as several other agencies—would prohibit the enforcement of a wide range of worker protections.

The bill slashes funding and includes dozens of riders designed to stop the administration from enforcing the law—escalating an ongoing battle a number of Republican legislators have been waging to weaken existing protections for workers.

Sadly, this assault on workers is designed to serve the interests of the richest of the rich and megacorporations at the expense of the other 99 percent of Americans. Indeed, the draft budget bill reads like the Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas list. The chamber has made fighting worker-protection regulations a top priority, and it has specifically sought to block a number of actions that the riders would prevent—such as an ergonomics rule and a worker notification proposal described in more detail below.

The bill would stop most of the administration’s new and proposed workplace regulations to improve enforcement of existing workplace laws to ensure that Americans have access to safe and secure workplaces, receive the pay and benefits they are owed, and may exercise their fundamental right to join a union. The administration’s actions are clearly consistent with the underlying laws that were passed years ago, and they merely update and modernize their enforcement to, for example, incorporate new technologies.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy