This vote was on an amendment by John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would preserve the effect of a executive order issued by President George Bush requiring that workers be notified that they don't have to join a union or pay union dues for non-bargaining purposes.
Specifically, Cornyn's amendment would roll back a recent executive order issued by President Obama stipulating that the Labor Department can decide what information it wants notices to contain when it comes to how best to inform federal contract workers about their rights under labor law. Obama’s order would rescind a Bush administration executive order that specifically outlines what information that notice should contain, rather than leaving it to the agency's discretion.
Cornyn said his amendment is intended to "protect workers' paychecks and promote transparency." Cornyn said currently, the National Labor Relations Board, the federal entity that oversees labor laws, permits an employer and a union to enter into a contract that requires all employees to pay union dues, regardless of whether they are actually members of the union. Cornyn said that as a result of an executive order signed by Obama, unions at federal contractors are no longer required to post notice informing non-union workers of their right to a refund of dues paid that were used for purposes other than collective bargaining.
"Now federal contractors are no longer required to post signs in the workplace informing workers of their rights regarding union dues. President Obama’s Executive order does not change the law, for workers are still entitled to the refund. It is just that now, under the Executive order, employers don’t have to tell the workers of their rights, which they should," Cornyn said.
Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Obama's executive order simply allows the Labor Department to decide what information to include and how it should be presented.
"Under the Executive order, there are 120 days of rulemaking to prescribe the size, form, and content of this notice to be posted. In other words, it is underway at this moment. I am opposed to this amendment because we didn’t restrict the ability of former President Bush to inform employees of Federal employers of their labor rights. We should allow President Obama the same opportunity," Durbin said.
By a vote of 38-59, the amendment was rejected. All but two Republicans present voted for the amendment. Every Democrat present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have required federal contractors to post Bush-era information signs informing them about their rights under federal labor law, rather than allowing the Labor Department to set its own standards.