The postal reform bill (H.R. 2309) introduced last month by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has a hidden agenda, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress (CAP): To eliminate collective bargaining for postal employees.
“The bill closely follows the strategy of Republican governors who are using budget problems to attack collective bargaining rights and weaken political opponents,” CAP found. “This strategy ignores alternative methods of closing budget shortfalls and instead insists that public employee pay is the cause of budget gaps and that collective bargaining must go.
“Rep. Issa’s proposed Postal Reform Act isn’t the frontal assault on collective bargaining being pushed by Govs. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio but instead closely adheres to the strategy of Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to empower ‘emergency’ managers to unilaterally modify collective bargaining agreements,” CAP concluded. “Such powers effectively end any real ability for workers to bargain collectively.”
The CAP analysis points out that “Rep. Issa’s bill would create a Solvency Authority that can ‘after meeting and conferring with the appropriate bargaining representative … reject, modify, or terminate one or more terms or conditions of an existing collective bargaining agreement.’ That’s virtually identical language to the Michigan law that allows the emergency manager to ‘after meeting and conferring with the appropriate bargaining representative … reject, modify, or terminate one or more terms and conditions of an existing collective bargaining agreement.’”
The Michigan law, which passed in March, is already being used to attack collective bargaining rights of Detroit Public School teachers, all of whom were issued layoff notices in April by the Governor-appointed Emergency Manager. The Emergency Manager then immediately moved to renegotiate the union’s contract. “The law requires him to only ‘meet and confer’ with representatives from the public unions, not bargain in good faith—which is required for collective bargaining to have any meaning,” said CAP.
The Michigan law is part of a grand strategy being rolled out by newly elected Republican governors in several states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Florida. Rep. Issa has praised Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public employee workers in that state.
Meanwhile, in a mounting backlash against attacks on working families, voters in Wisconsin are moving closer to recalling six of the state senators who voted for the union busting bill. A win in any three of the six recall elections would change the balance of power in the state senate from Republican to Democrat. Democratic state legislators have promised to repeal the union busting law if they are successful in their recall efforts.