Center for American Progress

Senate Republicans May Allow Workers’ Rights to Disappear
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Senate Republicans May Allow Workers’ Rights to Disappear

If the Senate fails to act soon to approve the president’s five bipartisan National Labor Relations Board nominees, many workplace protections could functionally disappear in August.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, accompanied by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, September 14, 2011, to charge that the National Labor Relations Board is playing politics and hindering job growth because of its action against Seattle-based Boeing. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, accompanied by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, September 14, 2011, to charge that the National Labor Relations Board is playing politics and hindering job growth because of its action against Seattle-based Boeing. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

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If the Senate does not act quickly to approve President Barack Obama’s five bipartisan nominees to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, a number of workplace protections taken for granted by union and nonunion workers alike could functionally disappear in August, leaving millions of workers vulnerable and with nowhere to turn.

Talking about a new company policy around the water cooler, discussing wages with colleagues on Facebook, or trying to join together with co-workers to form a union are among the many work-related rights in jeopardy. This is because if employers retaliate against workers and fire or otherwise discipline them for exercising these rights, only the NLRB—the independent government agency with exclusive jurisdiction over these types of unfair labor practices—can require these employers to reverse the penalties, reinstate workers, and pay workers for lost wages.

In short, the NLRB protects workers’ rights to join together in unions and collectively bargain, and it helps nonunion workers by protecting their right to speak up about workplace problems without fear of employer retribution.

Read the full column (CAP Action)

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Authors

David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Keith Miller

Senior Research Associate

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