Under the guise of talking about unemployment, a House Education and Workforce subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to question the relevancy of "big labor" and bash so-called union "corporate campaigns."
Led by its chair, Tennessee republican Phil Roe, The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee hearing "Corporate Campaigns and the NLRB: The Impact of Union Pressure on Job Creation," featured three witnesses who testified on the side of employers. That was the first sign that the hearing was a hit on unions. A fourth witness, Catherine Fisk, a law professor at University of California-Irvine, was the only pro-union person called to speak.
One of the only questions about jobs came when a member of the committee asked a business owner if he had laid off workers because unions had hurt his business. The owner, Chet Karnas, said that his subcontracting business’s layoffs were due to the recession and economic downturn.
Ohio democrat Dennis Kucinich took a moment to defend unions, calling anti-union sentiment a threat to free speech. After, South Carolina republican Joe Wilson asked a testifying lawyer how Congress can discourage what he called "frivolous" labor complaints. He also congratulated the two business owners on "surviving" the union "corporate campaigns."
Still, democrats failed to bring the conversation back to job creation, instead choosing to parry with the committee’s republicans. Massachusetts democrat John Tierney, who went after a business owner who wrote a book on unions, lingered on the value of unions and the National Labor Review Board, instead of attacking the suggestion that unions hurt jobs.
Had the HELP committee been serious about exploring the effect unions have on job creation perhaps some of the witnesses should have been union members or representatives, and maybe, just maybe, even economists. Instead, they spent a couple of hours debating the merits of union-bashing, while hardly even paying lipservice to the jobs crisis.