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Senate Proceeding on May 11th, 2011 :: 2:31:20 to 2:55:35
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Tom Harkin

2:31:17 to 2:31:37( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: markups on the budget. i yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i have ten unanimous requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders.

Tom Harkin

2:31:20 to 2:55:35( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Tom Harkin

Tom Harkin

2:31:38 to 2:31:58( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. harkin: mr. president, recently the national labor relations board general counsel issued a complaint against the

Tom Harkin

2:31:59 to 2:32:19( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: boeing company alleging that the company had violated the national labor relations act. well, this routine administrative procedure has set off what i call a melodramatic outcry from boeing, the business community, the editorial writers at the "wall street journal,"

Tom Harkin

2:32:20 to 2:32:40( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the national chamber of commerce, and, of course, our friends on the republican side of the aisle. the headline in "the wall street journal's" editorial page called it -- quote -- "the death of right-to-work." end quote. so carolina governor nick can i

Tom Harkin

2:32:41 to 2:33:02( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: haley declared that it was "government dick talletted economic larceny." end quote. at a press conference held at the chamber of commerce yesterday morning, senator demint from south carolina referred to it as thuddery. the senior senator from utah warned that foot soldiers of a vast and permanent bureaucracy were trying to implement a --

Tom Harkin

2:33:03 to 2:33:23( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: quote -- "leftist agenda." you would think that this one decision by an administrative arm of an independent agency was surely going to bring about the death of capitalism, as in the world today. i mean, this has taken on

Tom Harkin

2:33:24 to 2:33:45( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: incredible proportions in terms of the outcry and the mischaracterization of what's happened. so instead of talking about how we get americans working again, get the middle class on its feet, our colleagues on the

Tom Harkin

2:33:46 to 2:34:06( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: other taking their time on the senate floor and in press conferences downtown attacking the handling of a routine affair -- unfair labor practice charge. now, again, i don't really think it's worth of the time of the senate to debate this.

Tom Harkin

2:34:07 to 2:34:28( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: however, because of this huge outcry and the fact that "the wall street journal" has chosen to editorialize on this, and because of the disturbing misinformation that has distorted public discussion of this case, i'm going to take some time on the senate floor to try to, as they say, set the

Tom Harkin

2:34:29 to 2:34:50( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: record straight. i've said before that this boeing case is a classic example of the old saying that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth laces up its boots. well, in this case, i would say senate misinformation travels even faster than that. so it is time to set the record

Tom Harkin

2:34:51 to 2:35:16( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: straight. here are the facts in the case: it's undisputed, boeing recently decided to locate a production facility for the new greenliner planes in south carolina. they decided to do that. many statements were made by

Tom Harkin

2:35:17 to 2:35:38( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: executives of boeing, publicly stated, that the decision to move there was based in whole or in large part on the fact that there had been work stoppages, strikes in the last few years at the boeing plant in everett, washington.

Tom Harkin

2:35:39 to 2:36:02( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the nlrb's complaint alleges that this decision was unlawful retaliation against the boeing workers in washington state. now, this has been put into a political context, but let's again be clear about how this happens. the national labor relations board is an independent agency, set up under the wagner act 75

Tom Harkin

2:36:03 to 2:36:24( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: years ago. there's like two branches of the nlrb. one is the board, the nlrb, the national board. it is a five-member board appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate. on the other hand, there is the career service people, the civil

Tom Harkin

2:36:25 to 2:36:45( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: service, who are not a appointed, they are nonpolitical, they carry out the day-to-day functions of the national labor relations afnlgt if i might say, it is similar to the food and drug administration. the food and drug administration has an administrator, appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the senate, as does a lot of other

Tom Harkin

2:36:46 to 2:37:06( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: independent agencies. but then there is a civil service side of it that is professional -- professional people, not appointed by the president. they have career civil service status. the general counsel of the national labor relations board

Tom Harkin

2:37:07 to 2:37:29( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: is in that area, in the area of the career civil service. that person is in career civil service. the acting -- the acting attorney, the acting general counsel now has been a civil servant for 30 years, 30 years. so, what happens is that a

Tom Harkin

2:37:30 to 2:37:52( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: business or a union -- it wouldn't have to be them; it can be anybody -- can file a complaint with the nlrb alleging that certain actions were in violation of the national labor relations act. one of the provisions of the national labor relations act says that it is unlawful,

Tom Harkin

2:37:53 to 2:38:13( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: unlawful for a company to retaliate against workers for a protected activity conducted by those workers. protected activity. one of the protected activities under the national labor relations act is, of course, the

Tom Harkin

2:38:14 to 2:38:35( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: right to organize, the right to join a union, and of course under the taft-hartley bill some years later, the right not to join a union, if you zoo want to. so-called right-to-work states. so the protected activity in this case was the right to striefnlg the national labor

Tom Harkin

2:38:36 to 2:38:57( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: relations act protects that activity. organized workers in a union have the right to strike. it is a protected activity. a company cannot retaliate against workers for exercising that right. so if -- if -- i say "if" -- if

Tom Harkin

2:38:58 to 2:39:19( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the boeing company did in fact move a production line to another state in retaliation for the workers that exercised their right to strike in washington, that would be illegal. illegal for boeing to do that. unlawful.

Tom Harkin

2:39:20 to 2:39:41( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: i said "if" because i am not here today taking a side in the case. i'm not certain where the truth lies. this is for the tryer of fact and the tryer of law. so when a case comes to the national labor relations board, a complaint like this, they investigate it.

Tom Harkin

2:39:42 to 2:40:04( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: well, the national labor relations board investigated under the general counsel's office the civil service part of this, did an investigation. they took affidavits, they talked with people to find out whether or not there was any cause to move forward. now, again, whether it is right

Tom Harkin

2:40:05 to 2:40:25( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: or wrong, i don't know. but the -- this independent board decided that there was enough evidence for them to warrant taking this case to an administrative law judge. now, that's the process.

Tom Harkin

2:40:26 to 2:40:46( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: so boeing then can make its case before the administrative law judge. the general counsel's office can make its case. the administrative law judge then makes a decision. as i understand it, the administrative law judge can uphold the general counsel's provision -- or finding, it can

Tom Harkin

2:40:47 to 2:41:08( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: uphold -- or it cannot uphold it or it can modify it. after that's done, either side can appeal it. and that appeal then goes from the civil service part, it goes over to the national labor relations board. after the board then reviews it, they make a decision. they either uphold when the

Tom Harkin

2:41:09 to 2:41:34( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: administrative law judge said 0 or they don't uphold it. from there, either side can appeal to the circuit court of appe from the circuit of appeals, they can appeal to the supreme court of the united states. that's the process. that process has been -- has

Tom Harkin

2:41:35 to 2:41:55( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: been followed now for 75 years. we follow similar processes in other independent agencies of the federal government. as i mentioned, the food and drug administration, the federal trade commission, a the although of other independent boards and agencies have that same process.

Tom Harkin

2:41:56 to 2:42:18( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: so what's happened now is that many of our friends on the republican side in the business community, they have now taken up hue and cry that this process should be interfered with, that this process should somehow be stopped politically. well, i don't think it's our right, our job here to interfere in something like that

Tom Harkin

2:42:19 to 2:42:39( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: politically. now, if my friends on the republican side do not like the provision of the national labor relations a illegal to take retaliation against workers for protected activity, if my friends on the republican side want to change

Tom Harkin

2:42:40 to 2:43:00( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: that law, offer a bill. offer an amendment. a law can be you know, with both bodies, with the house and the senate, and the president signing change it. but it is wrong for, i believe,

Tom Harkin

2:43:01 to 2:43:22( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: elected officials like me or anyone else to interfere in that process and to cast it as a political decision. but that's what's being done by so many republican senators and people in the business

Tom Harkin

2:43:23 to 2:43:43( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: community. they've alleged that president obama was behind this, that somehow because he has appointed a couple members of the national labor relations board that he is behind this. president obama had nothing to do with this. this was a complaint failed by the machinist union, the international association of

Tom Harkin

2:43:44 to 2:44:09( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: machinists, with the nlrb. president obama has nothing to do with this whatsoever. and he shouldn't have anything to do with it. but, again, people on the republican side are alleging -- again, misinformation, misinformation, misinformation going out -- that somehow this is being orchestrated out of the

Tom Harkin

2:44:12 to 2:44:34( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: white house. facts arfacts are there was a complaint filed. the nlrb, the national labor relations board, is doing exactly what they've done for the last 75 years. it is going to go before an administrative law judge and then find out how it works its way through the courts at that time. i'd ask my friends on the

Tom Harkin

2:44:35 to 2:44:55( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: republican side that if, in fact -- company did in fact retaliate against workers because of a protected activity, do my friends on the republican side say that that should be okay?

Tom Harkin

2:44:56 to 2:45:16( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: sayi that a company -- that if workers exercise a legal right, that they have a legal protected right, and a company retaliates against those workers in any way, are my r saying they ought to be able to

Tom Harkin

2:45:17 to 2:45:39( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: do take all kinds of cases. let's say that a company decides to move a plant from southern california to, fargo, north dakota. and the reason they stated that

Tom Harkin

2:45:40 to 2:46:00( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: they moved it was because there were too many hispanics working in their plant in southern california, and they didn't like that, and they wanted to move to fargo, north dakota, because there's not that many hispanics there. guess what, folks? that's illegal. that's illegal. do my friends on the republican side say they ought to be able

Tom Harkin

2:46:01 to 2:46:21( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: to do that in violation of all of our civil rights laws in this country? of course not. people say of course they can't make that kind of decision based on that. can't make a decision to move a plant where there's more men than women so they don't hire as many women or less african-americans so they don't

Tom Harkin

2:46:22 to 2:46:42( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: have to hire african-americans. you can carry this on and on. i hope that what my friends on the republican side, i hope they're not saying a company can retaliate and just walk without any penalties, without even any recourse by

Tom Harkin

2:46:43 to 2:47:03( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: to have their case heard. that's what i'm here defending. i'm defending the rights of the workers in the plant washington, to have their complaint heard. i don't know the facts. i know a little bit of the law,

Tom Harkin

2:47:04 to 2:47:24( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: but i don't know the facts. that's for the trier. that's for the administrative law judge and the nlrb and the appeals court and the supreme court. that's their jurisdiction. but for us to say it shouldn't

Tom Harkin

2:47:25 to 2:47:47( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: workers can't even bring a case, and i might say that there are a lot of cases that are filed with the nlrb that don't go anywhere because the nlrb investigates, they do their due diligence, they find out there's not even enough evidence there to go forward. so all i can assume is that

Tom Harkin

2:47:48 to 2:48:08( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: there was enough toefd warrant going -- was enough evidence to warrant going forward. whether there's enough to actually find that boeing did retaliate, again, i don't know. that's up to the trier of fact, the administrative law judge. what i'm hearing from these

Tom Harkin

2:48:09 to 2:48:30( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: dramatic outcries that somehow we're destroying right to work, this case has nothing to do with right to work. nothing. zero. nothing. nothing to do with laws. the outcry that somehow this is destroying the essence of a

Tom Harkin

2:48:31 to 2:48:53( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: business to be able its best economic interest where to locate. this case has nothing to do with that. if boeing wants to open their plant in timbuktu, they can do that. if they want to open a plant in south carolina, they can do that. what they can't do is they can't

Tom Harkin

2:48:54 to 2:49:16( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: open a plant someplace and retaliation -- in retaliation against the workers exercising their legal protected rights. that, they can't do. now, again, this is an evidentiary type hearing, so the evidence will have to come forward as to just what decisions were made. why were they made?

Tom Harkin

2:49:17 to 2:49:39( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: quite frankly, there are executives in boeing who have publicly stated -- publicly -- that one of the reasons they moved this was because of the work stoppages at the everett plant. work stoppages, strikes. is that enough evidence? i don't know. maybe it's enough evidence to warrant going forward. obviously the general counsel's office decided that there was.

Tom Harkin

2:49:40 to 2:50:00( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: i would also point out, mr. president, that the general counsel's office in cases like this works long and hard to try to settle the case, to get both sides to settle it. i know the general counsel's office in this case did try to do that. but they were unsuccessful.

Tom Harkin

2:50:01 to 2:50:21( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: and so, therefore, the case goes forward. and so, i want again, just to reiterate, mr. president, this is not about doing away with right-to-work laws. nothing to do with that. nothing to do with interferences with businesses making their decisions on where to locate, things like that. nothing to do with that.

Tom Harkin

2:50:22 to 2:50:43( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: it has nothing to do with destroying capitalism. what it has to do with is whether or not workers have a right, first of all, can they exercise legal protected rights? and then can they make a case to the nlrb that they were

Tom Harkin

2:50:44 to 2:51:04( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: retaliated against because they exercised their legal rights? that's what this case is about. that's what this case is about. again, i understan understand the desire of certain people to raise money for

Tom Harkin

2:51:05 to 2:51:29( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: political campaigns. i understand and i understand how you exaggerate things a lot of times in direct mail and in the press. and i'm sure there'll be a lot of businesses gone to to say you've got to contribute to this campaign or that campaign to stop -- to stop -- president

Tom Harkin

2:51:30 to 2:51:50( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: obama or to stop the national labor relations board from taking your business decision away from you. well, that's misinformation. i know it can be used probably to raise a lot of campaign money. but it's not right, it's not right to deceive and to misinform the american people

Tom Harkin

2:51:51 to 2:52:12( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: about a basic right that protects the middle class and the middle-class workers in america. americans understand fairness, and they resent it when the wealthy and the powerful manipulate the political system to reap huge advantages at the

Tom Harkin

2:52:13 to 2:52:36( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: expense of working people. i have always been -- i think i've always been a pretty good friend of the boeing company. i've been a big supporter of boeing and back in my 30 years congress. it's a great company. they provide a lot of great jobs for american workers. they build great airplanes,

Tom Harkin

2:52:37 to 2:52:57( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: better than airbus, i might say. but -- but -- it's wrong for them now to come in to the political system and try to get the political system to undo a legal administrative procedure

Tom Harkin

2:52:58 to 2:53:18( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: that the workers at that boeing plant have instigated and have asked for the nlrb to investigate and to charge boeing with but what's happening in this case is that the powerful and

Tom Harkin

2:53:19 to 2:53:39( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the big are trying to manipulate the political system. powerful corporate interests are pressuring members of this body to interfere with an independent agency rather than letting it run its course. we should not tolerate this interference. we should turn our attention to

Tom Harkin

2:53:40 to 2:54:00( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the issues that really matter to american families. how we can create jobs in washington, yes in south carolina, in country. how we can rebuild the middle class. how we can ensure that working hard and playing by the rules will help you build a better life for your family and your children?

Tom Harkin

2:54:01 to 2:54:22( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: playing by the rules. well, that's what we did. that's what the workers did. they played by the they exercised their legal rights. and now there's a complaint filed, and i say it's wrong for us to interfere on that. again, if we don't like the law.

Tom Harkin

2:54:23 to 2:54:43( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: if we don't like administrative procedures that undergird this, it can be changed. it can be changed. but i dare say we've had 75 years of the wagner act, of this process, and sometimes -- i'll clos

Tom Harkin

2:54:44 to 2:55:05( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: sometimes businesses file a complaint with the nlrb against a union activity. that's investigated. that goes before administrator law judges too. so both i think it's unbecoming for us now to try to turn this into

Tom Harkin

2:55:06 to 2:55:26( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: some kind of a political, political, almost a political maelstrom, a political tornado when it shouldn't be that. let's let the law and let's let the administrative procedures do its job. and then if corrective action

Tom Harkin

2:55:27 to 2:55:36( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: needs to be taken, it is congress to do it at that time. not now. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. webb: mr. president, i ask

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