Senate Republicans have proposed a change to the National Labor Relations Act that will block the National Labor Relations Board from interfering in corporate decisions to open facilities in “right to work” states. Such states require “open shops,” which prevent unions from collecting dues involuntarily from workers. But will the bill have a chance in the Senate while controlled by Democrats? Sean Higgins at IBD takes a look at the map and says … maybe:
The legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act, which governs labor-management relations and created the NLRB. The proposal has not been formally introduced. The lawmakers are still working on the details, the aide said.
“We’ve got to pass this bill to stop this administration from bullying American workers,” DeMint said in an email to IBD. “Businesses have the right to invest in any state in America and states shouldn’t be penalized for protecting the rights of their citizens not to be forced to pay union dues.”
The bill would likely have bipartisan support if framed as an effort to protect the 22 mostly Southern states with right-to-work laws. Ten Senate Democrats represent those states.
The interior West and Midwest also has a strong right-to-work showing, with only Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and New Mexico allowing closed shops and forced union dues collections. However, only a handful of Democrats represent these states: Harry Reid in Nevada (who just won re-election), Tim Johnson in South Dakota, Tom Harkin in Iowa, and the already-endangered Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Kent Conrad in North Dakota has already announced his retirement.
In the South, though, Higgins is right. Senators like Kay Hagan (NC), Bill Nelson (FL), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Mark Pryor (AK, up for re-election in 2014) will not relish the thought of explaining why they voted to keep businesses from locating in their business-friendly home states. Other Democrats in less-friendly states may have a good argument to vote against the bill, however, even those inclined towards conservative positions in tough election years. Joe Manchin, for instance, has sided with the GOP on budget matters and less reliably on environmental concerns, but West Virginia is not a right-to-work state. He might be tempted to oppose the effort led by Jim DeMint as a protectionist measure, as well as to curry favor with party leadership.
Even if DeMint gets all ten Southern Democrats, though, it will still fall short of a cloture vote — which Reid is likely to demand on such a bill, at least if it comes as a stand-alone. It will also fall far short of a veto-proof number, which means that DeMint will need to attach the bill to something the White House desperately needs. And as luck would have it, the White House desperately needs a raise in the statutory debt limit this summer. What are the odds that DeMint might look to attach this bill and dare Obama to veto the debt-ceiling hike?