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News Friday, Mar 4 2016

On Dept. Of Labor 103rd Anniversary, Toomey's Record Of Bad Labor Votes

Mar 04, 2016

On the 103rd anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Labor, American Bridge President Jessica Mackler released the following statement on Senator Pat Toomey’s unacceptable record on labor:

“The Department of Labor has helped to build our middle class, level the playing field for millions of Americans, and been an unwavering defender of workers’ rights. However, the fight for working families is far from over, and Senator Pat Toomey has shown us again and again he is not on the side of working Americans. He has voted repeatedly against raising the minimum wage, for loopholes that allow employers to steal workers’ wages and overtime pay, against safety standard improvements and equal pay for women, and blocked workers from the freedom to form a union with their co-workers. Sen. Toomey is beholden to corporate special interests like the Kochs — and make no mistake — he is no friend of Pennsylvania’s working families.”


VIDEO: Toomey Said That The Steel Industry Leaving Pennsylvania Was “Rationalization That Had To Occur.” Appearing on Morning Joe: “TOOMEY: I don’t think it’s right – and I don’t think it’s good economics – to bail out failing businesses. CONTRIBUTOR: so it was right for the steel industry in Pennsylvania to go away? We let it happen. TOOMEY: The steel industry had a lot of problems, some of which were self-inflicted, some of which came from excessively generous labor contracts. I mean, there was a rationalization that had to occur. Now, it’s painful when that happens.” [Morning Joe,6/8/10]

2012: Toomey Voted To Permit Employers To Pay Higher Wages To Their Employees Even If It Violated The Terms Of An Existing Collective Bargaining Agreement. In June 2012, Toomey voted to amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow employers to pay their employees more than what was permitted by any relevant collective bargaining agreement. The vote was on an amendment to the proposed Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012; it failed by a vote of 45 to 54. [Senate Vote 163, 6/21/12; Congressional Record, 6/21/12]

  •  Amendment Was Also Known As The Rewarding Achievement And Incentivizing Successful Employees Act (RAISE) Act. According to a press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained via States News Service, “This week, the Senate is expected to vote on Amendment No. 2166 to the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S.3240), better known as the Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act (RAISE) Act. The Amendment is sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).” [States News Service, 6/19/12]
  •  Competitive Enterprise Institute: RAISE Act Allowed Employers To Give Workers Pay Increases Despite Collective Bargaining Agreements That Mandated Raises By Seniority Only. According to a press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained via States News Service, “Currently, union workers’ wages are dictated by collective bargaining agreements made between a union and an employer. Collective bargaining agreements not only create a floor for worker’s wages, they also establish a ceiling. The vast majority of these agreements grant pay increases on seniority, not merit. In other words, unionized employees can only see an increase in their salary through longevity-no matter how productive they are and how hard they work. The RAISE act would remove the barrier of [sic] employers to give their workers pay increases.” [States News Service, 6/19/12]
  •  Unions Rallied Against RAISE Act, Calling It An Attempt To Undermine Collective Bargaining. According to The Examiner, “Unions have put up fierce resistance to the proposal. Teamsters President James Hoffa railed against the bill in a recent letter to senators, in which he advised them to ‘oppose the RAISE Act (S. 3221) which seeks to allow employers to grant wage increases unilaterally to workers of their choosing.’ Hoffa’s position boils down to preventing employers from having the ability to give individual raises to union workers for outstanding performance. The Service Employees International Union called the RAISE Act ‘another attempt to undermine the rights of workers to bargain collectively – and that’s not fair.’” [Examiner, 6/27/12]
  • Sen. Harkin: Amendment Undercuts National Labor Relations Act By Undermining Collective Bargaining Agreements. According to the Congressional Record, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said in opposition to the amendment, that “this amendment is a solution in search of a problem. I don’t know–have any of my colleagues here had unionized businesses come to them complaining that they can’t give a raise? Have any of my colleagues ever heard of that–they have complained they can’t give a raise? The fact is collective bargaining agreements already provide–many of them–for merit-based performance increases. That is part and parcel of a lot of the agreements today. So what this amendment basically does is it undercuts the National Labor Relations Act. That is exactly what it does. If you think we should do away with the National Labor Relations Act and all the benefits and all the protections it has both for businesses and for workers, this is your amendment right here. Quite frankly, I can’t think of anything that would be more disruptive of a workplace than this amendment. When a business and workers have agreed on a collective bargaining agreement, this would destroy that kind of comity in the workplace.” [Congressional Record, 6/21/12]

2011: Toomey Effectively Voted For Exempting The FAA From Davis-Bacon Requirements. Toomey effectively voted for an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill that, according to a speech on the Senate floor by Sen. Rand Paul, would “exempt the FAA from the Davis-Bacon restrictions.” The vote was taken on a motion to table the amendment; a vote for the motion was a vote to kill the amendment. The Senate agreed to the motion by a vote of 55 to 42, killing the amendment. [Senate Vote 11, 2/3/11; Congressional Record, 2/3/11]

Toomey Voted Against IncreasIng The Minimum Wage At Least Twice

2015: Toomey Voted Against Raising The Federal Minimum Wage By An Unspecified Amount. In March 2015, Toomey voted against an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] create[d] a deficit neutral reserve fund to allow for legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage.” The Senate rejected the proposed amendment to its version of the FY 2016 budget resolution by a vote of 48 to 52. [Senate Vote 93, 3/26/15; Congressional Quarterly, 3/26/15; Congressional Actions, S. Con. Res. 11]

2014: Toomey Effectively Voted Against Raising The Federal Minimum Wage By Nearly Three Dollars, To $10.10, By 2016. In April 2014, Toomey effectively voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] increase[d] the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016. It would gradually increase the minimum cash wage for workers who receive tips until it equals 70 percent of the federal minimum wage for other workers. It also would amend the tax code to extend through 2016 the $500,000 cap for small business expensing of investments eligible for deductions, including allowances for computer software and qualified real property.” The vote was on a motion to end debate on the motion to proceed to consider the legislation, which required 60 votes to succeed. The Senate rejected the motion by a vote 54 to 42. [Senate Vote 117, 4/30/14; Congressional Quarterly, 4/30/14]

Mark Lafer Op-Ed: Toomey “Filibustered And Voted Against Legislation To Raise The Federal Minimum Wage.” In an op-ed for the Centre Daily Times, Mark Lafer wrote, “He has filibustered and voted against legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. He opposed the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, from his position at the Club for Growth.” [Op-Ed – Centre Daily Times, 8/10/15]

Toomey Tried To Deflect Blame As To Why He Did Not Vote To Raise The Federal Minimum Wage, Casted Blame On The Assertion That It Would Eliminate Jobs. According to a press release from the Office of Senator Pat Toomey, “U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) issued the below statement following today’s vote on raising the minimum wage. ‘The last thing the American people need is a bill coming out of Washington that would wipe out hundreds of thousands of their jobs. Yet this is precisely what the Senate voted on today. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate Democrats’ minimum wage bill will eliminate 500,000 jobs nationwide. And according to other studies, as many as 118,000 Pennsylvanians could lose a paycheck under this measure. Even worse, this bill will hit people who have fewer skills and younger workers the hardest — the very people who most need an opportunity to get into the workforce, get their first job, and start their way up the economic ladder. I do not support government policy that puts hundreds of thousands of people out of work. We need to stop this bad legislation in its tracks and move ahead on proposals that would actually spur hiring and economic growth — such as approving the Keystone XL pipeline, fixing our broken tax code, and improving our federal worker training programs.’” [Office Of Senator Pat Toomey,4/30/14]

National Labor Relations Board

Jobs Through Growth Act

2011: Toomey Voted For A Republican Jobs Proposal Known As The “Jobs Through Growth Act” That Included A Provision To Limit The Authority Of The National Labor Relations Board.In November 2011, Toomey voted for an amendment that would have put in place a number of Republican policy priorities. According to The Hill, “The ‘Jobs Through Growth Act,’ penned by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was voted down 40-46 and included a Sense of the Congress that a balanced budget to the Constitution is needed, a provision to make it easier for the government to rescind unspent funds and a reduction in taxes for individuals and companies. It also would have repealed last year’s healthcare law and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In addition, the bill would have limited the authority of the National Labor Relations Board, expanded access to offshore oil and slashed federal regulations related to the environment.” The amendment was a second-degree amendment to a bill to end the withholding requirement for payments to government contractors. The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 40 to 56. [Senate Vote 202, 11/10/11; The Hill, 11/10/11]

Union Representation Election Rule

2015: Toomey Voted To Overturn The National Labor Relations Board’s Rule Modifying Its Union Representation Election Procedures To Reduce Delays And Increase Transparency. In March 2015, Toomey voted for a joint resolution that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “provide[d] for congressional disapproval and nullification of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] rule relating to case representation procedures,” which, a separate Congressional Quarterly article explains, is “the process through which workers vote to unionize.” According to the NLRB, “The Final Rule will streamline Board procedures, increase transparency and uniformity across regions, eliminate or reduce unnecessary litigation, duplication and delay, and update the Board’s rules on documents and communications in light of modern communications technology.” The Senate adopted the joint resolution by a vote of 53 to 46. Afterwards, the House also adopted the resolution, but it was vetoed by the president. The Senate subsequently tabled the veto message. [Senate Vote 67, 3/4/15; Congressional Quarterly, 3/4/15; Congressional Quarterly, 3/13/15; National Labor Relations Board, 12/11/14; Congressional Actions, S. J. Res. 8]

2003: Toomey Effectively Voted To Make It Easier For Employers To Reclassify Current Workers As Exempt From Overtime Pay. In July 2003, Toomey effectively voted against an amendment that according to Congressional Quarterly, would have “block[ed] the use of funds for the Labor Department to implement a March 31 proposal that would make it easier for employers to reclassify some workers as ‘executive, administrative or professional employees,’ exempt from overtime pay.” The House rejected the amendment by a vote of 210 to 213. [House Vote 351, 7/10/03; Congressional Quarterly, 7/10/03; Congressional Actions, H.R. 2660]

  • Amendment Would Have Only Blocked The Proposed Regulations From Affecting Workers Who Were Currently Required To Be Paid Overtime. According to the Congressional Record, the text of the amendment stated that “None of the funds provided under this Act shall be used to promulgate or implement any regulation that exempts from the requirements of section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S. C. 207) any employee who is not otherwise exempted pursuant to regulations under section 13 of such Act (20 U.S.C. 213) that were in effect as of July 11, 2003.” [Congressional Record, 7/10/03]
  • Supporters Argued Reclassifying Workers Would Cause 8 Million People To Become Ineligible For Overtime Pay. According to the Congressional Record Rep. David Obey (D-WI) said, “Mr. Chairman, the Department of Labor is planning to change the regulations for overtime workers. They would make 1.4 million workers earning less than $22,000 a year eligible for overtime pay. That is a much needed adjustment which we support, but if the administration gets its way, an estimated 8 million workers will become ineligible for overtime because of changes in the rules. These include many of our first responders, firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians who will no longer be eligible for overtime pay because the Bush administration is changing the definition of who is being covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This amendment would stop the administrations [sic] from making those [sic] unprecedented change to the Fair Labor Standards Act by revising the regulations. It would save overtime pay for millions of working families.” [Congressional Record, 7/10/03]
  • Supporters Argued Preventing The Reclassification Of Workers Would Ensure No One Was Deprived Of Their Existing Overtime Pay. According to the Congressional Record Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said, “The Obey-Miller amendment tells the Secretary not to issue any regulation that would deprive anyone of their existing overtime pay. This is an opportunity to show America where we stand. If you defend the right of people to continue to earn the wages that they have earned to avoid suffering precipitous loss in income for doing the exact same job they have been doing for years, then you will vote for this amendment.” [Congressional Record, 7/10/03]

Right To Work
March 2011: Toomey Co-Sponsored A National Right-To-Work Bill. According to the Allentown Morning Call, “On Tuesday, high-profile conservative Senate Republicans, including Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, introduced a bill to protect workers who don’t want to join unions. ‘It’s probably the antithesis of … two years ago,’ said Tony Iannelli, president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. ‘This is a shift and a sea change relative to politics.’ The bill that Toomey supports would create a national right-to-work law, which would aim to ensure that union membership is not a condition of employment. Currently, 22 states have right-to-work laws, but Pennsylvania does not.” [Allentown Morning Call, 3/9/11]

Toomey: “The National Right To Work Act Will Protect Workers’ Rights And Make Our Economy More Competitive.” According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “‘American workers deserve the freedom to decide how to spend their own wages and to work in an environment free of discrimination and intimidation,’ Mr. Toomey said in a statement. ‘Workers should have the right to join a union and pay the corresponding dues if they want, but they should also have the right to not join and keep their hard-earned money. The National Right to Work Act will protect workers’ rights and make our economy more competitive.’” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/9/11]

AUDIO: Toomey Said That If Pennsylvania Was A Right To Work State, It Would Be More Competitive. Speaking with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) at a Tele-Town Hall, Toomey said, “If we were a right to work state, PA would be more competitive. More businesses would choose to locate in Pennsylvania because they would know they would have a more flexible workforce, they’d be able to advance people based on merits not based on whether the union bureaucracy agrees with it, it would make the workforce more flexible, more productive, and we’d have more jobs and higher wages.” [National Federation of Independent Business, 9/10/13, 19:42-20:06]

Published: Mar 4, 2016

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