Reid: Don't vote to discourage unions

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged members of his chamber to vote down a resolution of disapproval on a National Labor Relations Board rule that would speed up union elections.

"A new rule from the National Labor Relations Board will remove unnecessary obstacles to workers' rights to form a union," Reid said in his opening remarks Monday on the Senate floor. "I urge all my colleagues to vote tomorrow against the resolution of disapproval that would strike down this commonsense rule. The new rule doesn't change or do anything to encourage unions, but it doesn't discourage them either. It just gives workers the ability to vote yes or no while minimizing the chances of intimidation and stalling."

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Republicans have criticized the NLRB rule as giving companies too little time to get ready for union elections.

Also in his speech, Reid said the Senate would move forward on a U.S. Postal Reform bill by considering a number of amendments on Thursday. Republicans and Democrats compromised on which amendments they would potentially add to the bill.

Reid also reiterated Democrats' calls for Republicans to drop opposition and join them in passing reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Republicans have defended their hesitance to fully back the reauthorization, saying there are a number of flawed aspects to the legislation, including provisions dealing with same-sex couples and illegal immigrants.

"I can't imagine why my Republican colleagues would oppose such a worthy piece of legislation," Reid continued. "I'm hopeful, I'm somewhat confident they won't."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took the floor shortly after Reid and said the Obama administration was "rushing" to put the NLRB rule into place.

“As a favor to Big Labor, the President is right now rushing a plan that would restrict an employer’s ability to educate workers about unionization efforts, as well as increase their legal bills and the already high cost of complying with federal regulations," McConnell said.

“So tomorrow, senators, led by Senator [Mike] Enzi [(R-Wyo.)], will have an opportunity to vote on this effort to make it even harder to do business in this country. We’ll have a chance to stand up against what this President is doing to the economy," McConnell said.

There are a number of other pieces of legislation that the Senate will take up soon, such as cybersecurity legislation and a bill to keep college student tuition loan rates from rising. Democrats and the Obama administration are making a coordinated push to keep tuition rates low. On Wednesday, President Obama, at a speech at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, will urge Congress to pass legislation that would keep college tuition interest rates low.

Reid said Congress must face "a looming crisis for millions of students in America. The July 1st deadline for interest rates to double is fast approaching. With middle-class families struggling and fewer families being able to afford the rising cost of higher education, we can't afford to put college out of the reach for promising young people."

"Today Americans have more student loan debt than credit card debt," Reid said. "So why would we, Mr. President, want to double what they pay? The average graduate owes $25,000 when they graduate.

"Getting a college education shouldn't burden young people with unsustainable debt. Unfortunately, some Republicans have signaled they would rather cut taxes for the rich than invest in the next generation of American workers," he said.