House Republicans’ attempt to block staffer unions may have missed mark
While Congress adopted authorizing resolutions for most regulations, including those to afford the Capitol Police and Architect of the Capitol workers protections under the National Labor Relations Act, the House only adopted a resolution covering staffers last year and the Senate still hasn’t acted. The House GOP then tried to unring that bell in January.
As Mulshine noted in the report, the Constitution provides clear authority to each chamber of Congress to write its own rules. But, he contends, it’s not clear what House Republicans were trying to do with regard to unions in their rules resolution. First, the 1995 law sets out a process for amending or suspending OCWR regulations that wasn’t followed.
Second, the rules subsection in question doesn’t mention unions — it’s titled “restoring legislative branch accountability” — and to “extinguish the rights granted to federal employees in its employ, the House must do so with clear and unequivocal language,” the report argued. Mulshine also argues that the House can’t unilaterally suspend regulations promulgated by an independent office like OCWR, pointing to analogous Supreme Court precedent.
But even if you didn’t buy any of those arguments, Mulshine said, the GOP’s rules package still doesn’t block staff unions. That’s because all it purports to do is suspend OCWR regulations adopted pursuant to last year’s authorizing resolution, but OCWR has made lots of other regulations about unions over the years. In effect, last year’s resolution opened the barn door, allowing the possibility of staffer unions to bolt out; the GOP’s rules package may now shut that barn door, but that doesn’t lock the union horses back up.
The Congressional Workers Union, which has led the office organizing charge on the Hill, agreed with Demand Progress that the House rules had no impact on its efforts.