Incoming House Republican rulers plan barrage of anti-worker laws, sham probes / by Mark Gruenberg

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a UNITE union protest outside the Senate office buildings in support of Senate cafeteria workers employed by Restaurant Associates on July 20, 2022. With anti-labor Republicans now set to take over a key House committee, Sanders will have to act as the Senate firewall against their efforts. | Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP

WASHINGTON—The “anti-PRO Act.” Slow-walking union recognition elections. No card check. Comp time instead of overtime. Convoluted requirements bosses can impose on workers seeking paid family and medical leave. And partisan investigations, especially of Biden-named NLRB members Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty, coming out of our ears.

Welcome to the forecast, leaked from the self-proclaimed leading “union avoidance” law firm, a.k.a. union-buster, Littler Mendelson, plus other sources, of what the House Republican-run Education and Labor—whoops, Education and the Workforce—Committee will try to impose on workers and their allies in the upcoming 118th Congress.

There is one saving factor against this right-wing corporate-backed war against unions and workers. Senate control stays in Democratic hands, which means the nasty schemes the House panel dreams up will likely find a graveyard over on the other side of Capitol Hill.

And Sen. Bernie Sanders will probably be running that cemetery for the Republican brainstorms.

The Vermont independent, workers’ most-longtime and reliable ally in Congress, is in line to become the new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, succeeding Washington State Democrat Patty Murray. It handles all labor legislation.

That’s because Murray, who now chairs the HELP Committee and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee which helps actually dole out Labor Department and other education and labor-oriented money, is slated to chair the full Appropriations Committee, which deals with all discretionary federal spending, defense and domestic.

Once the Republicans eliminate “labor” from the House panel’s name, again, who will send Sanders the bills to bury is up in the air. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., ran the committee the last time her party controlled the House. She wants to do so again. Foxx is so anti-union she once, to North Carolina media, questioned whether unions should legally be allowed to exist.

But Foxx has reached her party’s limit of six years in such top jobs, and needs a waiver to reclaim it. If there’s no waiver, the chief contender is Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind. In voting records, there’s no difference between Foxx (AFL-CIO 2021 score zero, lifetime 6%) and Banks (2021 zero, lifetime 5%).

That still leaves the question of what the ruling Republicans on the extremely partisan panel will try to push through, which is where the Littler Mendelson leak comes in.

The top measure they listed will be what could be called the anti-PRO Act. Think of anything workers and their allies proposed in the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which the House passed twice but which fell victim to Senate Republican filibuster threats.

Then, in his so-called Employee Rights Act, Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., flips those ideas around. Even Littler Mendelson chortlingly calls Allen’s bill “the antithesis of the PRO Act.”

“Among other things, it would add increased protection for secret ballot elections and extend such protections to workers deciding whether a union will go on strike,” the union-buster’s analysts write. It also includes a provision banning salting.

Allen’s measure would “require union recertification elections when union membership drops below 50%”—a scheme the Iowa legislature imposed on workers several years ago. It backfired there: AFSCME and the Teamsters won more than 90% of the recertification votes.

Allen would also “protect employee privacy,” corporate-speak for another boss idea: Banning firms from giving any contact information about workers to the union that qualifies for a recognition election. He also legalizes so-called “merit pay” and exempts Native American tribes, and their enterprises, from federal labor law.

And his legislation would “provide protection from political spending by requiring workers to ‘opt in’ to have any portion of their paycheck used by unions to support political candidates or parties.” Never mind that workers’ political contributions are voluntary, unlike those of middle managers. CEOs coerce them to support anti-worker politicians—or else.

Last but not least, Allen would “codify the traditional joint employer ‘direct, immediate control’” standard. That Republican rule leaves workers, especially franchise workers—think McDonald’s—caught trying to figure out who to bargain with, and who actually broke labor law: Their immediate boss or the corporate headquarters.

“It’s time to protect…the union election process from being abused by union bosses. It also provides all employees, independent contractors, and new gig economy workers the necessary protections so they can focus solely on their jobs,” says Allen.

The anti-PRO Act isn’t the only piece of anti-worker legislation pending on the Republican agenda, the union-buster firm says. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., would legalize—and extend nationally—a Republican Trump regime pilot project “which allows employers to self-report federal minimum wage and overtime violations as an alternative to litigation. Employers may apply to the program by submitting information from a self-audit that includes calculations of any unpaid minimum or overtime wages.”

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division would have to verify the bosses’ figures. If it OKs the deal, DOL would “supervise a settlement with affected employees that provides payment of any unpaid wages.” And workers who agree to the settlement couldn’t sue later if the figures were proved wrong.

But with the Republican-run House committee passing anti-worker and anti-union bills and Sanders burying them—opposite of what occurred in this Congress—labor and the Biden administration will turn to regulations to help workers. Even Littler Mendelson recognized that.

So did the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department in its recent board meeting. Its first-look agenda in 2023 has a heavy emphasis on federal rules.

“The Biden administration is delivering on its promise to invest in infrastructure, create good middle-

class jobs, and put workers first,” said TTD President Greg Regan. “Our federation will continue to work with this administration and the new Congress to advance policies that improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for the dedicated workers who build, operate, and maintain our critical transportation and infrastructure systems.”

The federation’s workers-first agenda includes federal regulatory reforms to:

  • “Prevent recipients of federal passenger rail grants from displacing workers.
  • “Fully restore rail workers’ sickness and unemployment insurance benefits.
  • “Attach ‘Made in America’ requirements to all federal infrastructure grants.” That’s in addition to provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act requiring Davis-Bacon wages and Project Labor Agreements on such grants.
  • “Address ongoing air traffic control and technical operations staffing challenges.
  • “Reform the joint venture approval process for airlines.” Doing so would prevent “joint venture” arrangements, such as codesharing, which both hurt passengers financially and cost U.S. workers jobs.
  • “Establish a domestic prevailing wage for maritime workers on offshore wind projects.” That’s already in place in the first project, negotiated between a Danish firm and the Biden administration’s Commerce Department. It’s supposed to be a model for others.

The union leaders also want DOL to prevent U.S. airlines from further abusing visa worker programs to hire non-U.S. pilots, they told Biden Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a Laborers Union member, who met with them.

“As the United States undergoes the largest-ever federal investment in transportation and infrastructure workers, these reforms will strengthen domestic manufacturing, alleviate systemic staffing issues that affect commercial flights, and establish a living wage for maritime workers on offshore wind projects as clean energy opportunities expand. These reforms will also protect wages and benefits for aviation and rail workers and ensure that the federal government has no role in outsourcing U.S. jobs or displacing U.S. workers,” TTD stated.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People’s World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

People’s World, November 22, 2022,

Five million poor, low income voters could make the difference Tuesday / by Mark Gruenberg

Rev. Barber, co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign | Jose Luis Magana/AP

In a massive pre-election push the Poor People’s campaign has contacted 5.5 million low-wealth and poor registered voters who could deliver the GOP a massive defeat on Election Day. The organization headed into the final weekend before Election Day intent on ensuring they get to the polls and that their votes are counted, too, despite voter repression in various states.

The theme of this last drive: “If you ever needed to vote for democracy, the time to vote is right now.”

The campaign set a goal of five million voter contacts in states with chapters, but particularly in 15 targeted states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Overall, it’s operating in 30 states and more than 140 cities, Barber said.

It raced past that mark four days before the rally, hitting 5,504,713 contacts by the time the event began. Contacts included 700,000 Floridians, 209,440 in Arizona and 731,785 in Georgia, a key purple “swing” state.  In 2020, the campaign contacted 2.1 million people total.

“Vote for democracy, vote for health care, vote for freedom. It’s all in the balloting,” urged Malik Gray of Tallahassee, Fla., one of dozens of PPC volunteers who spoke on the organization’s nationwide zoom mobilization call/rally on the evening of Nov. 2.

But the point is to get people the volunteer PPC canvassers contact to vote. Many are registered but not voted in years, if ever, “because no one contacted them” or listened to their concerns, said campaign co-chairs the Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis.

“The power to transform the entire political landscape is in the hands and in the votes of poor and low-income people,” Theoharis explained. “All over the country, people are hurting.”

Can make the difference

So turning them out on Nov. 8 can make a difference in the close races in target states, Barber and the others said. He used his home state, North Carolina, as an example.

“There were 1 million poor and low-wealth people there who didn’t vote” in 2020 even though they were registered, he explained. “If we had had 20% of them, the outcome would have been quite different” from Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s narrow loss to Republican Donald Trump in the Tar Heel State.

That’s what happened in Pennsylvania in 2020, Barber added. The campaign contacted tens of thousands of people there, helping Biden win by 110,000 votes.

This time, it’s contacted 614,991 voters, urging those who support its agenda of diverting federal funds from the military to domestic programs, raising the minimum wage, enacting strong worker rights, improving housing and public schools and providing health care for all. Two of the volunteers speaking via zoom specifically endorsed government-run single-payer health care, too.

Pennsylvania is particularly important because it has an open Republican-held U.S. Senate seat and open Democratic-held governorship. The Senate race between pro-worker Democratic Lieut. Gov. John Fetterman and Trumpite Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz could break that chamber’s 50-50 tie.

And Pennsylvania’s governor controls the election machinery in the Keystone State.  Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) faces a Trumpite Republican state senator who has led the former Oval Office occupant’s campaign to erase not just Biden’s margin, but the votes of poor and low-wealth people in Philadelphia.

Other volunteers highlighted other problems poor and low-wealth people face—problems they’re using on the campaign trail to attract people to vote on Nov. 8.

“There are millions of paid caregivers who are earning less than $15 an hour,” the minimum wage floor the campaign is lobbying for, said caregiver Teresa Muldrow of Philadelphia. “And there are millions more who are unpaid.” They’re family members.

“The expanded child care tax credit lifted 30 million people out of poverty in 2021” when lawmakers used it to aid poor- and low-wealth people left with little or no income due to the coronavirus pandemic. “But Congress refused to extend it” though the modern-day plague still afflicts the U.S. Restoring the tax credit and making it permanent is is a Poor People’s Campaign goal.

“Our public schools aren’t funded enough,” said Anam El-Jabali, a Palestinian refugee and mother of five from Chicago’s southwest suburbs. “This is why we demand quality, equitable and diverse schooling.”

“I want folks to understand this is serious,” Barber said. “We march, we organize, we vote. But the one thing we don’t do is quit,” signaling the campaign will continue after Election Day, to hold politicians’ feet to the fire.

“Voting is the guaranteed way to shift public policy—if the masses get together” to elect officeholders who will work to end the plight of the nation’s 140 million-plus poor and low-wealth people, Barber added.

“If the extremists” who oppress the poor “didn’t know this, they wouldn’t be fighting us so hard. They want the lobbyists and the greedy to use the vote,” but not the rest of us.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People’s World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

People’s World, November 4, 2022,

Elections 2022: No time to let up in the fight against fascism / by Jarvis Tyner

The Trump forces have spent billions of corporate dollars to rob the people of their means to fight for their basic rights, including the right to vote. They are stepping up propaganda, gerrymandering, and the disenfranchisement of citizens. They are trying to eliminate any peaceful paths to real economic and social justice.

Through his actions and words, Trump proves every day that he is undeniably a committed fascist. The media is full of private discussions he has had with his top officials where he admits his admiration for Adolf Hitler. Who does that?! And who welcomes Nazis to their rallies, or permits them to make Nazi salutes at their meetings?

Trump has financed and legitimized political violence. He has destroyed the Republican Party by making it an openly fascist party, and has built his despicable movement by promoting vile racism, anti-Semitism, male supremacy, and hatred of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and foreigners. He has financed and promoted a most dangerous gang of right-wing thugs, who tried to steal an election and carry out a coup under his direction.

As we vote, we must remember that voter suppression and red-baiting are designed to demoralize and splinter movements, to turn us against each other and a people’s agenda.

Most importantly, we must remember—and refuse to forget—that these efforts are unbelievably cruel, because they are targeted directly at the people whose very lives are at risk. They are targeted at victims of class exploitation, racial, gender, and sexual brutality. They are targeted at those trying to survive in the ghettos and barrios, the elderly, the children, the incarcerated, and the victims of poverty. They are targeted at many tens of millions in impoverished communities who are denied their right to clean air and water, free medical care, dignified affordable housing, and to a free, high-quality education.

It is a left agenda that supports these rights, making it the only agenda that the people will support. That is why the right and its media are flailing, and, like the old German Nazis and other fascist movements around the world, the far right and their media are using anti-communism to unite the center-right with themselves.

They are calling mainstream progressive initiatives communist, but these broad left policies are really just decent and moral policies.

Unfortunately, some people shrink in the face of being labeled communist or socialist, although the Communist Party is aligned with those fighting for democracy.

Anti-communism is a diversion that is ahistorical and an insult. It confuses the very nature of who we are. What have we been fighting for, for over 100 years? We stand against racism, wars of imperialism, anti-Semitism, male chauvinism, and poverty. We believe in medical care for everyone, free, high-quality education, and the role of government in protecting human rights and providing vital services.

Making the rich richer is an assault on the well-being and survival of working- and middle-class people. That’s not what we are after.

The problem for the Trump forces is that they do not support basic pro-people causes, and so they naturally do not have support from the majority of voters. That is why they try to demonize progressive agendas. That is why they must lie and cheat to win. And that is why, if the democratic and progressive forces are inspired and effective, they can win the majority of races.

Those around Trump must be defeated, and they can be defeated. Step one is to defeat them at the polls.

We have had successes before, and we will have successes again. If we look south to Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been some very important victories against fascist advances of the extreme right. Popular movements, progressive parties, and youth and student groups have worked to restore democracy, despite great odds against them.

The tide is turning.

We hail the historic victory of Lula DaSilva, the heroic leader of the Workers Party of Brazil. Lula had been jailed for over 500 days on trumped-up charges. He was replaced by Bolsonaro, an extreme right-winger who swiftly imposed fascist policies that claimed the lives of thousands. Yet, after years of campaigning for “Lula Livre,” Lula was released from jail by the courts, and despite aggressive media misinformation campaigns, just days ago he secured another election victory. A record number of voters came to the polls, and Lula emerged victorious, despite massive efforts to steal votes by the opposition.

In Bolivia, the people voted out a U.S.-backed coup regime reigniting the Movimiento al Socialismo. In Honduras, the people elected the first woman president, the wife of a former president who had been ousted in a U.S.-backed coup. In Colombia, Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing guerilla fighter, and Francia Márquez—a Black woman, human-rights defender, and environmental activist—were elected president and vice president, respectively.

The tide can turn here in the U.S., too.

While a lot of the early polls reported more people supporting Republican issues over Democratic issues, and therefore a likely win for the GOP in many cases, other factors cast doubt on their reliability. Results from early voters showed Democratic supporters outnumbering the Republicans. Then it was widely reported in the media that most of the early polls were coming from Republican pollsters! Their aim might have been to rev up the right and demoralize the democratic forces.

This battle can be won!

The Communist Party has a big role play now, as it has in the past. We are the party that fought against white supremacist terror during the “Red Summer of 1919,” and against the framing of Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s.

We are the party that fought to free the Scottsboro Nine and that fought for justice for Emmett Till.

We are the party that led the organization of millions of industrial workers into the CIO.

We are the party that fought for the defense of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

We are the party that fought in solidarity with the South African anti-apartheid movement, that fought to free Angela Davis, and that fought to end the Vietnam War.

History proves we have always been, and will always be, on the side of the working class and on the side of democracy.

It is our solemn duty to do all we can to defeat the Republicans at the polls on November 8th and in 2024. Donald Trump and his violent, criminal movement must be defeated, and fully prosecuted for their crimes.

Jarvis Tyner is the former executive vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party’s national board. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism, and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses, and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality, and the socialist alternative.  

People’s World, November 7, 2022,