2011-09-23 / Top Stories

Turner Backs Anti-Labor Bill

By Daniel Solomon

After his upset victory on September 13 in the race to replace Anthony Weiner, Congressman Bob Turner was sworn into office that Thursday, vowing “to not forget how I got here” and praising bi-partisanship, which he called “the only way” for Republicans to win in a place like New York City. A few minutes later, though, he took a very partisan stance, casting a vote to sharply curtail the power of the National Labor Relations Board, which mediates disputes between management and private sector unions and which conservatives have accused of having a proworker bias.

The bill, called the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act,” cleared the House 238 to 186, largely along party lines and is unlikely to have a hearing in the Senate. It would prohibit the NLRB from ordering an employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance and was introduced by Representative Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina. It was prompted by a spat between Boeing and its unionized workforce in Washington, which alleges that the company opened a plant in South Carolina, where it’s hard to organize because of ‘right-to-work’ laws, as a way of retaliating against the union for strikes. The labor relations board sided with the union and ordered Boeing to move production back west, provoking a barrage of criticism from the right.

The labor movement, in turn, reacted ferociously to last week’s vote. The AFLCIO, which has over 11 million members, denounced the legislation as an “over-reaching, special interest bill that advances the interests of corporate donors while attacking working people, their rights and their jobs,” in a press release from its president, Richard Trumka. He added, “it creates sweeping changes to laws that protect ... working families’ livelihoods” and is “bad for America and bad for the middle class.”

The Wave tried to contact Turner for comment, but when we called his office no one picked up the telephone and we were directed to the “voice-mail of Congressman Anthony Weiner.” Newbie or not, the representative may have some questions to answer when he comes home during the next recess.

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