Late last April, Democracy Tree reported about a couple of anti-labor bills introduced back-to-back in the House by GOP lawmakers. These proposals are slithering their way through the legislative process.
Rep. Amanda Price (R-89) introduced HB 4642, a bill to amend Public Act 150 of 1962 which laid-down employer rules for dealing with replacement workers during a labor dispute, commonly known as “scabs”. Ms. Price’s legislation eliminated the portion of the law that required employers to inform the applicants for replacement work that they would be, well…replacement workers.
The bill passed the House last November, and is now being considered in the Senate Committee on Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing. At the time Rep. Jim Townsend (D-26) spoke in opposition to the bill:
As a practical matter, this bill will not have much of an effect since this provision is pre-empted by the Federal Management Relations Act. But, the idea of this legislation is repugnant. It attempts to get job applicants to accept work as a scab without letting them know they are replacing a striking worker. Many workers find these types of jobs unacceptable because they don’t want to face the wrath of their co-workers, neighbors and the community for engaging in strike-breaking. Scab jobs are frequently short in duration, with regular workers returning to their jobs after the strike…Job applicants should be able to make informed decisions about whether or not to be a scab. It’s duplicitous to advertise for their services without giving them this important information.
Being a scab? It’s something you’d think any cogent person would want to know before making their employment decision. After all, who would want to cross a picket line on their first day of work?
No Problem! Rep. Tom McMillin (R-45) had just the remedy — HB 4643. He proposed this legislation at the same time as the above bill. It would amend Public Act 176 of 1939 to make “mass picketing” of employers grounds for legal action against the unions, with fines of up to $1,000 per day for each individual, and $10,000 for the union every day. The House Analysis of the bill said, more or less, it was addressing a problem that doesn’t exist, but given the recent GOP history of passing legislative measures that are little more than solutions looking for problems (i.e. voter fraud laws), we shouldn’t be surprised.
Yesterday, Rep. Townsend offered some amendments to the bill, citing concerns about freedom of speech violations. After reading the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor, and reminding his fellow lawmakers of their sworn duty to uphold our founding document, Townsend listed his amendments: give courts the authority to place freedom of speech at a premium when deciding when and how to apply the proposed law; allow judicial discretion in the consideration of surrounding circumstances; and eliminate a subjective fine of $10,000 per day against unions for their nebulously defined “involvement” in a strike.
Predictably, Townsend’s amendments were gaveled away.