Bernie Sanders wants to bring back "blacklisting" of contractors to force unionization

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Bernie Sanders has scheduled a hearing this Thursday before the Senate Committee on the Budget. It has the foreboding title, “Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies that Violate Labor Laws?” Given Sanders’ history, it’s not hard to imagine what this is about.

Sanders will reportedly either propose the resurrection of a failed 2014 executive order from the Obama administration that introduced “blacklisting” of federal contractors who didn’t toe the labor union line during negotiations or votes on union access to businesses, or propose a new measure doing pretty much the same thing. Under that order, employers were effectively held to be guilty until proven innocent of their support of labor unions. A failure to comply could result in the contractor’s bids being dropped from consideration for federal contracts.

Sanders believes he has an ally in Joe Biden. After all, while on the campaign trail, Biden once wrote about the need to ensure federal contracts “only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns.” The meaning of what an “anti-union campaign” might be is so vague to to potentially preclude employers from even taking part in discussions if their employees were being pitched to join a union and schedule a vote to approve the plan.

Obama’s rule was overturned by Congress in 2017 and, of course, Donald Trump wouldn’t have been interested in it. But now that the Democrats are back in charge, Sanders probably thinks he might have a shot. Sanders sent a letter to Biden last month reminding him of his campaign promise. (Because sometimes Sleepy Joe needs reminders, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

The essence of your plan for strengthening union organizing was to make sure that federal dollars do not flow into the hands of unscrupulous employers who engage in union-busting, participate in wage theft, or violate labor law. In order to implement that plan, I urge you to sign an Executive Order preventing companies that violate federal labor laws from contracting with the federal government.”

F. Vincent Verniccio from the Institute for the American Worker provided us with the following comment:

“Sen. Sanders wants to keep employees in the dark about unionization, take away their right to a secret ballot, and make federal contractors guilty until proven innocent. However, if Sen. Sanders is truly worried about safeguarding workers and taxpayer dollars he should bring the same standards to unions as job creators and forbid federal funds going to unions with officers convicted of corruption or harassment.”

This entire idea is no better now than it was during the Obama presidency and it could arguably wind up being worse. Such an order shuts down the right of employers to share their opinions with their workers during negotiations. If successful, it will drive up consumer prices as unions demand increasing kickbacks and every such cost always trickles down the supply chain to the consumer. And is what would essentially amount to mandatory unionization of all companies doing business with the federal government really what the Office of Budget should be focusing on when we have so many other things going to hell in a handbasket? Keep your eye on this story for further developments. When it comes to labor unions and their Democratic Socialist handmaidens, it’s the things they do when nobody is paying attention that you really have to stay on top of.