Steelworker priorities are moving in the Senate.
We know that when we continue to push for legislation that supports our core issues, it may take some time, but that engagement works in the long run. We saw that first hand with the Butch Lewis Act last year. This law will protect the pensions of 120,000 USW members and retirees, but it took a decade of persistence to get it done. This week, we are seeing progress with two pieces of legislation.
The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act –
Yesterday, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act was introduced in the Senate by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. This bill has twice passed through the House with bipartisan support and will compel OSHA to issue a workplace violence prevention standard that requires health care and social services employers to develop and implement comprehensive plans to protect workers from violence in the workplace. We know a root cause of this problem is directly related to a short-staffing crisis that has long plagued these sectors, and this is just one way to work towards a solution to that. This legislation will have direct impact on the nearly 60,000 members we represent in these fields, as well as touch nearly every family in the U.S. in some capacity.
The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act –
In addition, today, the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act was introduced. This bill, led by Senators Casey, Booker, and Van Hollen and co-sponsored by HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray, will end corporations’ current ability to claim a tax deduction for their union busting costs.
Aggressive union avoidance techniques stymie or undermine our organizing efforts. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2019 employers spend roughly $340 million annually on “union avoidance” consultants to help them stave off union elections. The Economic Policy Institute also finds that in approximately 4 of 10 union elections in 2016-2017 employers were charged with committing an unfair labor practice. Among larger bargaining units of 61 employees or more, over 54% of elections have an unfair labor practice charge.
Whether or not there are charges of unlawful behavior, employers spend millions of dollars to sway the opinions of their employees with respect to whether or how to exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The tax code has long recognized that spending by corporations with the purpose of influencing the general public with respect to elections is not tax-deductible. This bill extends that principle to spending done by employers to influence workers’ choices to exercise their rights, declaring that it is also not deductible from taxation.
Our work in the coming weeks and months will now turn to building a strong list of bipartisan co-sponsors for these bills so we can move them towards a vote and over the finish line. Stay tuned to Rapid Response to find out how you can help!
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