Labor Relations Under the Bush Administration

By Daniel J. Doyle
2010, Vol. 2 No. 05 | pg. 1/1

On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn into office as America’s 43rd President. Bush stood out amongst his 42 predecessors as the country’s first President to hold a Masters Degree in Business Administration.1 This degree was granted by the Harvard Business School, an institution criticized by many in the Labor Movement as a place that has produced some of the uglier faces in modern business management.2 Bush was called the CEO President because his decision making process closely resembled that of a business leader.3 This style is marked by several advantages, including a persistent vision, decisiveness, and an unwavering certainty in his policy choices. The CEO President’s approach suffers from a tendency to act without adequate deliberation, an unwillingness to recognize the complexity of some policy issues, and an apparent inability to consider anything but a narrow range of choices.4 Bush saw himself as someone who could make tough decisions quickly. In his own words Bush said, “I listen to all the voices, but mine is the final decision … I’m the decider, I decide what’s best.”5 Unfortunately, this attitude leads to a narrow outlook on policy options. A limited view characterized much of the Bush administration, including the strategy taken with regard to labor relations. As is the case with most Republicans, it is assumed that Bush would take an approach heavily favoring management and business. Bush, who some called “the very model of an MBA President,” was determined to weaken the rights and benefits granted to working Americans through decisions that might be called unethical, and in some cases even illegal.6

Executive appointments are one of the most critical decisions any President can make in the field of labor relations. First among these is the appointment of the Secretary of Labor. In this case, Bush chose Elaine Chao. Chao served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George H. W. Bush and is the wife of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. After leaving government, she took up a position as a distinguished fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. Chao held the office of Secretary of Labor longer than any American since World War II, and is the only member of the Bush Administration to hold the same job for both terms.7 Unfortunately, this extended tenure did not translate to effective governing.

In 2004, Chao’s Department of Labor (DOL) had its biggest victory in successfully updating overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which had not been reformed in over 50 years. The four Presidents preceding Bush all attempted to overhaul overtime rules, but each failed because the issue is so politically contentious.8 While the Bush Administration’s reform of the Fair Labor Standards Act is highly controversial, the DOL should be commended for making strides toward fixing this out-of-date law. The Bush Administration’s reform of the Fair Labor Standards Act makes improvements that both businesses and labor advocacy groups asked for. Prior to the 2004 revision, any worker who earned a salary of $155 a week, or $8,060 a year, would be exempt from federal overtime laws.9 Labor organizations took issue with this rate, which they saw as heavily outdated. Fifty years ago, a weekly salary of $155 may have been high enough to deny overtime, but it is not today. The number of overtime eligibility lawsuits brought against employers and their employees exploded throughout the 1990s. Employees of companies such as Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Taco Bell sued their employers for using the outdated exemption standards to withhold overtime pay. These lawsuits culminated in a series of multi-million dollar verdicts in favor of the employees, and the Bush Administration’s decision to increase the overtime minimum salary exemption to $455 a week, or $23,660 a year. The new regulations also make white-collar employees who earn more than $100,000 a year exempt automatically. This regulation does not affect many Americans, as most of those who earned over $100,000 a year are already exempt for other reasons.10

The most controversial aspect of the Bush Administration’s reform of the Fair Labor Standards Act is the change made to worker classification. Workers whose jobs are considered “administrative,” “professional,” or “executive” do not qualify for overtime. These categories did not change under the overhaul, but the method for determining who falls into each was altered drastically. Prior to 2004, an employee’s job title and a narrow checklist of certain job duties were the primary factors used in determining eligibility under the aforementioned criteria.11 Following the Bush Administration’s reform, eligibility is determined by a broad look at each employee’s day-to-day duties. As an example of how the law has changed: prior to 2004 the manager of a fast-food restaurant would be considered ineligible for overtime only if he or she had the power to hire and fire employees. Following the reform, ineligibility is extended to any fast-food manager who is has a say in key staffing choices, such as hiring, firing, and promoting. Even if the manager does not have authority to make these decisions, their ability to influence them falls within the range of “administrative” duties.12 Business leaders commend the new regulations, which they believe will decrease the number of lawsuits their companies face for withholding overtime. Labor unions, on the other hand, are vehemently opposed to these new regulations, which greatly increase the number of workers exempted from receiving overtime. Former presidential candidate John Edwards blasted the new regulations in 2004, asking “Why would anyone want to take overtime pay away from as many as 6 million Americans at a time when they need it most?”13

Upon accepting her position as Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao made a public statement saying “If we really are going to protect workers, we must put more emphasis than ever before on prevention and compliance assistance — rather than just after-the-fact enforcement.”14 Unfortunately Chao’s Department of Labor then went on to earn a reputation for ignoring its regulatory responsibilities. The Department of Labor is more prone to politicization than many other federal agencies, a fact that led to a sharp degradation of worker rights and workplace safety during the Bush Administration. Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote several critical reports on the Bush’s Department of Labor. Lilly called the DOL “a deeply troubled department,” wherein “you've got people embedded there who are philosophically hostile to the mission of the agency."15 Regardless of its cause, the DOL clearly fell short of its responsibilities under the leadership of Elaine Chao.

In the summer of 2008, the Government Accountability Office released two reports which found that the Bush Administration’s DOL failed on several fronts. The reports show that the DOL had inadequately investigated reports from low-wage workers of employers who failed to pay the federal minimum wage, neglected to pay overtime, or refused to issue final paychecks.16 President Obama took time out of his presidential campaign to contact Elaine Chao and express his “serious concern” with the performance of the DOL after reading these reports.17 Even more concerning is the deterioration of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during the Bush Administration.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an agency under the Department of Labor. OSHA’s mission is to prevent workplace injury, illness, and fatality through effective regulation and enforcement of workplace safety standards. Despite Elaine Chao’s stated commitment to worker safety, OSHA’s budget fell each year that George W. Bush was in office, resulting in a cumulative loss of 5% to the agency’s overall budget, and an 8% decrease in its enforcement budget.18 This budget decrease made it very dangerous for working Americans under the Bush Administration. A report issued in 2007 by the DOL’s inspector general found that more than 14% of the country’s underground coal mines did not receive federally mandated inspections in 2006. In this same year, the number of mining fatalities in the United States more than doubled from the 2005 level.19 Without adequate funding, OSHA complained that it could not put enough inspectors in the field. Denial of this funding request quite plainly translated into unsafe conditions that led to the deaths of American working people. An audit conducted in 2009 found that over the previous six years, dozens of Americans died at firms that should have been subjected to much tighter enforcement.20

The 2009 audit aimed primarily to evaluate President Bush’s much-touted Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP). The EEP aims to increase inspections and enforcement in workplaces that have shown willful and repeated violations, resulting in serious injury or death.21 On paper, EEP is a great idea; in practice, it is an irredeemable failure. The 2009 audit found that OSHA inspectors failed to collect required data, and conducted uneven investigations at different workplaces. It was discovered that multiple fatalities under a single employer often went unnoticed, because a company’s name was misspelled on OSHA records or because fatalities that occurred at different subsidiaries of the same negligent company were overlooked.22 In the EEP audit, OSHA’s assistant inspector general wrote that proper enforcement could have “deterred and abated workplace hazards at the worksites of 45 employers where 58 subsequent fatalities occurred."23 Repeat fatalities at irresponsible firms did not receive the inspections they should have. Companies that were investigated for repeat fatalities and came to settlements seeking to improve workplace safety, were often not held to their agreements, thereby allowing the same deadly practices to continue in their workplaces. One example occurred at two worksites managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority where two workers died under very similar circumstances. Had the first fatality been investigated, the second would likely have been prevented.24 The EEP audit concludes that only slightly more than half of the 282 fatalities that should have triggered increased enforcement under the EEP were properly logged and received the appropriate reaction. Celeste Monforton, a former OSHA policy analyst, condemned the Bush Administration’s EEP program, saying that the administration was “suggesting to the public that you've got an enhanced enforcement program going for five years, and it's not enhanced at all… It's not getting to the bad actors, and you're giving the public a false sense of effectiveness."25 It is despicable that American lives were lost due to the poor OSHA funding and the ineffective implementation of the EEP, and yet the Bush Administration still publicly claims success in its mission to improve workplace safety.26

Spending cuts made by Bush's Department of Labor cost workers their rights and their safety. However, there is one area in which the DOL became more rigorous in its enforcement: labor union oversight. New regulations put in place by Bush’s DOL required increase financial reporting from over 20,000 union locals.27 Supporters of this policy argue that more thorough reporting allows workers to see where their hard-earned dues are being spent, making unions more accountable to their membership. Critics of the policy argue that these regulations are being used to weaken and discredit labor unions.28 Regardless of the reason for this policy, it is irresponsible to make strict union financial reporting a top priority while underfunding safety enforcement. Prioritizing union scrutiny over workplace safety is reckless, and a clear example of the Bush Administration’s shortsighted willingness to politicize governing.

Politics were further injected into the Department of Labor’s operation through a privatization program spearheaded by Elaine Chao in 2004. With this program DOL employees began to compete for their jobs with private contractors.29 The Government Accountability Office released a report in November of 2008 on the effectiveness of the program. Of those surveyed for the report, 60% said they felt demoralized by the program, damaging their ability to work effectively. Even more concerning is that the DOL deliberately falsified its reports to Congress on the effectiveness of the privatization program.30 Reports to Congress contained numerous inaccuracies. When reporting program costs, several substantial expenses, such as planning, transition, and review programs were excluded from the reports.31 This allowed the DOL to grossly understate expenses associated with this program. Reports of savings are unreliable as well. Inaccurate numbers were used in some reports, and others used projections when actual numbers were available.32 This resulted in an over-reporting of the savings created by privatizing the jobs of DOL employees. Fortunately, very few employees were actually affected by this program. Of the 314 employees who were affected, 263 were moved to a position with the same title and pay, or were promoted. Only 16 employees were demoted, and 14 of these received the same professional grade or pay in their new position. However, some of the actions taken against employees are alleged to be racially motivated. All of the 22 employees who were laid off or demoted are African-American, and two thirds of the employees who received promotions are Caucasian.33 Senator Harkin and Representative Obey, both committee chairs with jurisdiction over labor policy, condemned the Bush Administration’s handling of the Department of Labor. They denounced the privatization program as a failure for its damage to worker morale, as well as the use of “grossly overstated savings.”34

In 2006 Karl Rove called for members of the Bush Administration to come to the aid of beleaguered congressional candidates before the mid-term election.35 Elaine Chao is one of several members of the administration who answered this call. Chao attended over 20 events for Republican candidates.36 These trips were financed by taxpayer dollars and served a purely partisan purpose. Following the election, a Congressional investigation found that Chao and other administration members had clearly violated the Hatch Act of 1939 by using public funds for political gains.37 Unfortunately, no regulating or judicial body chose to take action against these violations.

Besides of the Department of Labor, the most important governing body in the field of labor policy and relations is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is an independent governing body established by executive order in 1939. The mission of this board is to conduct union authorization elections, investigate and remedy labor law violations, and enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). For the first years of its life, the NLRB was made up of three members, but that number has since been expanded to five.38 Many labor boards have specific rules mandating that their members be partisan appointments representing labor and management interests. However, because the NLRB is an adjudicatory body rather than a mediation or arbitration agency, no references are made in its laws to partisan appointments. Instead, it was accepted that the board would be made up of impartial public members, appointed from government service or academic careers. This tradition of non-partisan appointments continued until President Eisenhower began politicizing the board. Following Eisenhower’s precedent, the President makes appointments so that his own party holds a 3-2 majority on the board, as well as the chair. NLRB appointees are no longer impartial members, and are now often from management or union law careers.39 This politicization has been widely criticized as having damaged the fairness of decisions rendered by the NLRB. Instead of impartial members making fair decisions, we now see the NLRB disproportionately favoring unions when a Democrat is President, and favoring management when a Republican is President.

President Clinton’s NLRB was criticized for unfairly favoring union interests during his term in office. Clinton’s NLRB made several key decisions, such as allowing resident assistants and teaching assistants at universities to form a union, allowing temporary employees from personnel staffing firms to join the bargaining unit of a union where they are placed, and preserving employee’s rights to representation following a corporate merger or consolidation.40 Upon their appointment, the members of Bush’s NLRB rejected precedent and overturned all of these decisions made by Clinton’s NLRB, as well as numerous others. While the NLRB made clearly partisan decisions prior the Bush Administration, these decisions were well supported as enforcing the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. Bush’s NLRB made decisions that rejected precedent, were poorly justified, and often flew in the face of federal labor laws. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc, the court decided that unless a statute speaks clearly to the contrary, the governing agency with jurisdiction over a particular field is given the final word on all policy decisions within its area of operation, “unless [it is] arbitrary, capricious or manifestly contrary to statute.”41 This means that the NLRB may make decisions on issues of labor law with very limited oversight. Chevron allowed Bush’s NLRB to make sweeping changes to labor policy, without the ability for any other governmental body to hold them accountable.

One controversial decision made by Bush’s NLRB concerned workers’ “Weingarten” rights. The name “Weingarten” comes from a previous NLRB decision, and refers to the right of an employee to request the presence of a coworker or union official at any investigatory interview that the employee reasonably believes might result in disciplinary action.42 The Weingarten representative is present at an interview in order to recall facts that an employee may have forgotten or not been aware of, and to suggest other employees who could have information concerning the case, in order to present a more well-rounded version of what happened in any labor dispute. At the time of Bush’s inauguration, non-union workers were able to request the presence of a coworker at such an interview. Bush’s NLRB decided to remove this right from all non-union workers, which is about 90% of the American workforce.43 In defense of this decision, the Bush NLRB argued that: coworkers, unlike union representatives, do not represent the interests of the entire workforce; that coworkers do not redress the imbalance of power between employers and employees; that coworkers do not possess the same knowledge base and skill set as a union representative; and that having a coworker present at an investigatory interview could limit the confidentiality of investigatory interviews.44

The arguments made by the Bush NLRB in defense of their Weingarten decision do not hold up to much scrutiny, as the National Labor Relations Act is quite clear on this issue. Section 7 of the NLRA states that all employees have the right to “engage in...concerted activities for the purpose of ... mutual aid or protection."45 The act does not limit this right to unionized employees, nor does it say that employees may only seek assistance from a representative with certain skills and motives. The confidentiality argument is weak as well, considering that the risk of a breach in secrecy is exactly the same with a union representative as with a coworker. However, due to the Chevron decision, no court or governing body is able to evaluate the decision made by this NLRB. This decision limits the Weingarten rights of union employees as well. As was the case with many of their decisions, the Bush NLRB shaped policy in a broad manner, which often did not concern the case at hand. Instead of simply deciding which workers would receive Weingarten rights, the Bush NLRB put more power in the hands of employers who are faced with an employee choosing to exercise his or her Weingarten rights. Following the decision, employers can end the interview at any time, and can choose to refuse any negotiation with the Weingarten representative. Employers can now refuse to discuss certain information, such as medical records, while a Weingarten representative is present. 46The two labor representatives on the NLRB issued a biting dissent to this decision. They charged that this decision violates Section 7 of the NLRA, by denying American working people the right to seek “mutual aid and protection,” by having a coworker assist them in a meeting that could mean a termination of their employment. The dissenting NLRA members stated, “it is our colleagues who are taking a step backwards… They have over- ruled a sound decision not because they must, and not because they should, but because they can.”47

Another contentious decision made by the National Labor Relations Board under the Bush Administration involves the practice of “salting.” Salting is a practice where unions will have their members seek employment with a non-union company in order to organize that company’s workers internally. The Supreme Court has upheld decisions that give union labor rights to “salts,” as they are employees of both the union and the employer whom they are “salting.” Past NLRB decisions have also prohibited employers from refusing to hire new employees based on union affiliations or sympathies as a way to avoid salting campaigns.48 These decisions have been widely rejected by employers who feel that the NLRB has favored union salting practices over the rights of businesses. One example of this is Griffon Electric, one of the largest non-union electrical contractors in the United States.

When Griffon Electric’s president learned that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had planted several salts in his company, he led a vicious anti-union campaign and appealed to the NLRB for a decision allowing him to seek out and terminate the employment of the salts. Upon investigation, the NLRB found that Griffon Electric had committed numerous illegal labor practices and denied his request.49 Past incarnations of the NLRB have refined policy regarding salting. The Clinton NLRB in particular made a strong effort towards establishing guidelines for when salting practices were legal, and when employers are able to weed out the salts in their workplace.

Policy concerning salting campaigns took a drastic turn under the Bush Administration’s incarnation of the National Labor Relations Board. Bush’s NLRB decided in the case of Toering Electric Co. that the ultimate criteria to determine whether an employee could be terminated due to suspicion of salting is whether the Board could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt if an employee would have accepted a job with the employer. If this cannot be proven, the person in question is not considered an employee and therefore the employer is free to deny employment to any applicant, even if this denial is motivated solely by an employer’s anti-union stance.50 This decision is even more controversial than that concerning Weingarten rights, as it does not fall under the protection of the Chevron decision. In considering the salting issue, Bush’s NLRB did not hear briefs from affected parties, nor did it allow oral argument. The Board also rejected precedent set in over 170 previous NLRB decisions regarding salting, and a Supreme Court decision that gave NLRA rights to salts. Neglecting to hold adequate deliberation is a clear sign that this decision was made “arbitrarily,” making it exempt from Chevron protections.51 In addition, this decision violates the “discrimination with regard to hire” provision found in Section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, by allowing employers to deny employment to an applicant based solely on union sympathy or affiliation is clearly discriminatory. The NLRB’s decision disregards any discriminatory intention of the employer in considering hiring violations, and instead puts all focus on the intentions of the employee.52 As in the case with the Weingarten decision, Bush’s NLRB is again in clear violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Unlike the previous decision, the salting case is not under protection by the Supreme Court’s Chevron decision. Unfortunately, this case was not investigated, but not for lack of outcry against the partisan and illegal actions of the Bush NLRB.

On December 15, 2007, every member of Congress received a letter signed by 57 prominent labor law professors.53 This letter protested the actions of the National Labor Relations Board under the Bush Administration. Its signatories stated that:

“Recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board reflect an ominous new direction for American labor law. By overturning precedent and establishing new rules, often going beyond what the parties have briefed or requested, the Board has regularly denied or impaired the very statutory rights it is charged with protecting—the rights of employees to join and form unions and to engage in collective bargaining. The Board's persistent efforts to undermine NLRA protections also have dramatized the need for Congress to enact serious labor law reform after nearly half a century with no substantial legislative change.”54

The letter’s call for National Labor Relations Board reform did not go entirely unanswered. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a piece of legislation that aims to reform the union authorization process, which members of the Labor Movement and the signatories of the December 15th letter agree is completely broken. EFCA is comprised of three pieces: increased penalties for employers who violate the law during union organizing campaigns, arbitration for the first union contract at a workplace, and majority authorization as a means to authorize union representation.55 All concerned members of the Bush Administration oppose EFCA. President Bush promised to veto the bill if it ever made it to his desk. Elaine Chao openly campaigned against the bill’s passage, and numerous members of her Department of Labor joined the fight against EFCA.56 Robert Battista, the Chairman of Bush’s National Labor Relations Board preceded his time on the NLRB by assisting Detroit newspapers with union-busting campaigns, and is currently employed at a law firm that specializes in advising companies how to keep unions out of their workplace.57 None of these officials are open to legislation that makes it easier for American workers to form a union. However, none of them are able to formulate arguments against EFCA that are not simple to disprove.

The Bush Administration and other critics of the Employee Free Choice Act point out that it “would dramatically increase the penalties for most unfair labor practices committed by employers, but not unions, during an organizing drive.”58 This is a criticism of the EFCA strengthening civil penalties against employers. Under the EFCA, substantial penalties will be put in place to deter employers from using illegal union-busting strategies during an organizing campaign or contract negotiation.59 Critics in the Bush Administration point out that the EFCA increases penalties for lawbreaking businesses, but makes no change for penalties against unions.60 This criticism is absolutely true; the EFCA puts in place some very steep penalties against employers, but doesn’t mention any penalties for unions. However, it is very clear why this is necessary. Employer abuses have become commonplace because the current penalties are so low that many see them simply as a cost of doing business. It is almost always less expensive for a business to break the law during an organizing campaign, than it is to allow a union to form.

The second criticism of the EFCA concerns its contract negotiation provision. Under the EFCA, newly unionized workplaces are given 120 days to reach their first contract. Should the contract not be reached in 120, the case is sent to arbitration. Federal arbitrators will write up a contract that is legally binding to both the employer and the new union.61 Critics in the Bush Administration state that this provision robs both employers and employees of their right to determine a mutually agreeable contract.62 What these critics ignore is that current NLRB regulations already allow employees to be robbed of their ability to obtain a contract. Employers regularly delay the contract negotiation, and there are no significant penalties that can be used to force negotiation. As a result, 32% of the time employers are able to push back the signing of a contract for over a year after union authorization.63

The final EFCA provision, majority authorization, is undoubtedly it’s the most frequently challenged. Majority authorization, also known as card check, is a major revision to the current union authorization process. Currently, workers in a unionizing workplace must sign on publicly distributed cards whether they support the union. If 30% of workers support a union, the National Labor Relations Board conducts an official election at the workplace. Under majority authorization, if over 50% of the workers sign cards supporting the union, it will be immediately authorized without the need for a NLRB election.64 Opponents of the EFCA criticize majority authorization for being public, and eliminating the traditional election system. In 2007, Elaine Chao said, “a worker's right to a secret-ballot election is an intrinsic right in our democracy that should not be legislated away at the behest of special-interest groups." It is true that a private election is preferable to a public one, however, it is a fallacy to claim that the current election system is private or fair. Employers often hire “union-avoidance” consultants, such as Robert Battista, Bush’s NLRB chairman, to undermine the election.65 Workers are subjected to mandatory anti-union propaganda, while union organizers are denied access to the workers. One-on-one meetings are held with workers to determine their inclination, and those who support union authorization are often threatened or even fired. In fact, over 36% of workers who vote no on union authorization have stated that their decision is a direct consequence of supervisor coercion.66 This is particularly interesting because one of the most often used arguments against majority authorization is that it will result in union organizers intimidating workers into signing in favor of a union. Majority authorization is not a new policy, and so it is easy to disprove the idea that it will result in union coercion. Ontario, Canada used a majority authorization system for 50 years, and during that time not a single complaint was filed against union organizers for intimidation during the process.67 Majority authorization has also been in effect in Massachusetts for nearly three years now. Northeastern University professor Karl Klare authored the card check legislation, and in the three years it has been in effect, not a single complaint of union intimidation has been made. The Employee Free Choice Act is an example of union-friendly legislation that the Bush Administration rallied against for purely partisan reasons, and without effective counter-arguments. The EFCA is a very divisive piece of legislation, and it comes as no surprise that the Bush Administration opposed it.

Bush’s partisan opposition to labor-friendly legislation limits his judgment even on national security issues. In 2007 President Bush promised to veto the critical 9/11 Commission Security Bill. While Bush supported the security provisions of this bill and urged its passage, he refused to pass the bill because this it granted collective bargaining rights to baggage screeners in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Bush asserted that if given collective bargaining rights, these workers would not be flexible enough to meet security needs. Labor-friendly Democrats blasted the Bush Administration for sacrificing national security to prevent TSA employees from the ability to bargain collectively. Late Senator Ted Kennedy made a fiery statement in defense of the TSA workers, saying:

“What is it about the other side that they have against working men and women? How insulting to say that these men and women will not put the security of the United States first? At the time when we had 9/11, under the Defense Department, they moved hundreds and thousands of civilians all around this country. They were all under collective bargaining agreements. Not one grievance was filed, not a single one. These men and women understood their duty. They understood the threat.”68

Senator Kennedy pointed out that on 9/11 the baggage screeners had the right to collectively bargain. Despite this, they worked admirably to ensure the safety of American citizens. Rules and procedures were repeatedly changed in the days following 9/11, and not a single baggage screener voiced opposition. Kennedy also pointed out that the first people on the scene during 9/11 were firefighters and police officers, two groups that are organized into unions, and who both have the ability to collectively bargain.69 Ultimately, the TSA’s collective bargaining provision was removed from the 9/11 Commission Security Bill, so as not to risk the failure of this critical legislation. While the attempt to grant collective bargaining rights to TSA workers was ultimately a failure, it did succeed in highlighting the Bush Administration’s willingness to adopt illogical, counter-productive, and arguably dangerous positions in order to maintain their ideological opposition to organized labor.70

Labor Relations under the Bush Administration were marked by a strong showing of favoritism towards the interests of business, and illogical policy choices made to limit the power of the American Labor Movement. Bush’s labor appointees all created and enforced policy in a way that hurt workers’ rights and safety, while promoting the interests of management. Legislative positions taken by the Administration were firmly anti-labor, even when those decisions put critical legislation at risk. Through examination of policy choices made by the Bush Administration, it is clear that labor policy under the administration was illogical, counter-productive, and damaged the financial standing and safety of American working people.


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Crawford, Krysten. "Battle Engaged over New OT Rules." August 23, 2004. (accessed March 31, 2010).

Dickerson, James Carney and John. "Inside the Mind of the CEO President." TIME, July 28, 2002: 2.

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Pfiffner, James. "The First MBA President: George W. Bush as Public Administrator." Public Administration Review, January/February 2007: 10.

Pitney, Nico. Kennedy Rails Into Conservatives Trying to Block 9/11 Bill to Hurt Workers. March 7, 2007. (accessed April 4, 2010).

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Sherk, James, and Paul Kersey. How the Employee Free Choice Act Takes Away Workers' Rights. April 23, 2007. (accessed April 2004, 2010).

Silverstein, Kevin. "Labor's Last Stand: The Campaign Against EFCA." Harper's Magazine, July 6, 2009: 1.

Smith, R. Jeffery. "Labor IG Audit Finds Many Failures in Worker-Safety Initiative." The Washington Post, April 2, 2009: 1.

—. "Report Details Bush Officials' Partisan Trips." The Washington Post, October 16, 2008: 1.

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1.) ( 2008)

2.) (Steroni 2004)

3.) (Dickerson 2002)

4.) (Pfiffner 2007)

5.) (Pfiffner 2007)

6.) (Pfiffner 2007)

7.) (Occupational Health & Safety 2009)

8.) (Crawford 2004)

9.) (Crawford 2004)

10.) (Crawford 2004)

11.) (Crawford 2004)

12.) (Crawford 2004)

13.) (Crawford 2004)

14.) (Occupational Health & Safety 2009)

15.) (Dickerson 2002)

16.) (Fletcher 2008)

17.) (Fletcher 2008)

18.) (Fletcher 2008)

19.) (Fletcher 2008)

20.) (Silverstein 2009)

21.) (Layne 2003)

22.) (Smith, Labor IG Audit Finds Many Failures in Worker-Safety Initiative 2009)

23.) (Smith, Labor IG Audit Finds Many Failures in Worker-Safety Initiative 2009)

24.) (Smith, Labor IG Audit Finds Many Failures in Worker-Safety Initiative 2009)

25.) (Smith, Labor IG Audit Finds Many Failures in Worker-Safety Initiative 2009)

26.) (Fletcher 2008)

27.) (Occupational Health & Safety 2009)

28.) (Occupational Health & Safety 2009)

29.) (Leonnig 2008)

30.) (Leonnig 2008)

31.) (Office 2008)

32.) (Office 2008)

33.) (Office 2008)

34.) (Leonnig 2008)

35.) (Smith, Report Details Bush Officials' Partisan Trips 2008)

36.) (Reform 2008)

37.) (Smith, Report Details Bush Officials' Partisan Trips 2008)

38.) (Twomey 2008)

39.) (Twomey 2008)

40.) (Twomey 2008)

41.) (Twomey 2008)

42.) (Twomey 2008)

43.) (Twomey 2008)

44.) (Twomey 2008)

45.) (Twomey 2008)

46.) (Twomey 2008)

47.) (Twomey 2008)

48.) (Twomey 2008)

49.) (Twomey 2008)

50.) (Twomey 2008)

51.) (Twomey 2008)

52.) (Twomey 2008)

53.) (Brudney 2007)

54.) (Brudney 2007)

55.) (Kennedy 2007)

56.) (Silverstein 2009)

57.) (Silverstein 2009)

58.) (Sherk and Kersey 2007)

59.) (Kennedy 2007)

60.) (Sherk and Kersey 2007)

61.) (Kennedy 2007)

62.) (Sherk and Kersey 2007)

63.) (American Rights At Work 2010)

64.) (Kennedy 2007)

65.) (Silverstein 2009)

66.) (Bronfenbrenner 2000)

67.) (Zasloff 2008)

68.) (Pitney 2007)

69.) (Pitney 2007)

70.) (Pitney 2007)

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2022, Vol. 14 No. 09
This interdisciplinary paper investigates the shortfalls and obstacles to success currently facing the climate movement, examining issues represented by the disconnect between policy and electoral politics, the hypocrisy and blatant indifference... Read Article »
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