CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Protesters stood outside Congressman Morgan Griffith's Christiansburg office Thursday asking him to vote "no" on three upcoming bills that the Congressman said are out of Committee, but haven't been presented yet to the floor.
The local union workers and members of the Coalition for Justice are against H.R. 2775, the Employee Privacy Protection Act, H.R. 2776, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, and H.R. 986, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017.
To read the text for H.R. 2775, click here. .
To read the text for H.R. 2776, click here.
To read the text for H.R. 986, click here.
One of the protesters Thursday was Penny Franklin, the President of IUE-CWA Local 82160.
She explained, "There's three bills out there in particular that will limit the way working people are able to organize, and also inhibit the rights of sovereign nations, with our native brothers and sisters, and that just can't happen anymore."
Congressman Griffith said in a phone interview with WDBJ7 Thursday, because he hadn't voted in Committee on these bills and they haven't been presented to the floor yet, he hasn't seen them.
He explained, "I have not had an opportunity to read any of the three. I've got legal questions on 986 that I want to get answered. I will tell you, just based on the summaries that my team gave to me, I have significant questions both pro and con on the [Rep. Tim] Walberg bill (H.R. 2776). And then the [Rep] Joe Wilson bill (H.R. 2775), I think we've seen some of those ideas before, but I'm going to have to take a look at how this bill is written before I can make a final decision. But the fact that some folks showed up that are concerned about it means that it will get on my radar and I will do my best to make a decision that I think best represents the constituents of the 9th District.
Franklin also dropped off a letter to Congressman Griffith's office. In that letter, she explained:
"H.R. 2775 would cut off workers' access to key information ahead of representational elections. It would severely limit the contact information for workers that an employer could or would provide to union organizations ahead of a representational election. Moreover, the wording of the bill would provide no cutoff for how late an employer could provide the information, meaning that the employer might provide it as late as the night before the election. These limits and delays would make it extremely difficult for union organizers to answer workers' questions and provide information before a vote.
H.R. 2776 would require delayers before workers could hold a representational election, apparently for no reason other than to provide anti-union employers with an opportunity to intimidate workers into voting against organizing. The bill would create a minimum 35 day delay before a representational election could occur. This period between workers' submission of a petition and the election itself is when employers are more likely to commit unfair labor practices - the bill provides more time for lawbreaking. Further, the bill would require extensive pre-election hearings to produce even more pointless delays and frustrate workers, even if the union and employer agree on literally every pre-election issue.
The other main harm caused by H.R. 2776 is that it would allow employers to gerrymander representational elections by stuffing unrelated work groups into a representational election, even if they have little in common with the actual group trying to organize. It would do so by overturning the NLRB's 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, which simply clarified that an employer could not pack voter rolls for an election unless the addition workers share an "overwhelming community of interest." Amazingly, even on of the Majority’s hand-picked witnesses at the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions’s June 14 hearing on the bill admitted that Specialty Healthcare had been properly decided, yet H.R. 2775 is still moving forward with this provision intact.
Finally, H.R. 986 would simply eliminate the right of workers at tribal-owned commercial enterprises to collectively bargain-period. It would exempt those workers from the NLRA's protections, without even ensuring that the tribe itself had its own laws protecting the right to collectively bargain. Currently, tribal enterprises that perform legitimately governmental functions and are inward-facing are exempt from the NLRA, but purely commercial enterprises like casinos are covered. At many of these commercial enterprises, the overwhelming majority of workers are non-tribal members, meaning that they have literally no recourse, as they-rightly-are not able to participate in tribal elections."
All three bills were placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 234 on September 25.