By: Tom Hebert
Chairman Bernie Sanders (Socialist-Vt.) has announced a Senate Budget Committee hearing Thursday titled “Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies that Violate Labor Laws?” The hearing purportedly examines the possibility of ending federal contracts to companies engaging in “illegal anti-union activities.”
In reality, this hearing is designed to paint a single company in a bad light and gin up momentum for the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU). By any fair measure, this hearing is outside the Budget Committee’s jurisdiction and is part of a government-wide effort to expand organized labor’s power at the expense of American workers.
The 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act re-emphasized Congress’s power of the purse by establishing a budget process for the House and Senate to follow. The Act created the House and Senate Budget Committees as well as the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency that analyzes and scores legislation for budgetary and economic impact.
According to the Senate Budget Committee’s own website, the Committee’s primary responsibility “…is to develop a concurrent resolution on the budget to serve as the framework for congressional action on spending, revenue, and debt-limit legislation.” Through this budget resolution, the Committee can initiate the reconciliation process. The Committee “…also holds hearings on the economy, oversight hearings to monitor the performance of government agencies, and hearings to consider nominations for the president’s Office of Management and Budget.”
Given the Committee’s self-stated purpose and jurisdiction, an entire hearing dedicated to examining ending federal contracts for a single company seems to be a clear waste of Committee resources and taxpayer-funded time.
So, what’s really going on?
Sanders sent a letter to President Joe Biden on April 26, 2022 urging Biden to draft and sign an executive order that prevents companies with even an alleged violation of federal labor law from contracting with the federal government. While presumably covering all companies that violate federal labor law, the letter singles out Amazon as the “poster child” for why an “anti-union busting Executive Order” is necessary, laying out all sorts of alleged labor violations. It should be noted that the letter’s sole citation is Joe Biden’s campaign website, making the upcoming hearing a clear dirt-digging mission for Sanders.
There is an additional element at work here. In late March 2022, workers at Amazon’s JFK8 Staten Island facility narrowly voted to unionize, delivering the nascent ALU its first victory. However, just this week, Amazon workers at a second Staten Island facility known as LDJ5 overwhelmingly voted against representation by the ALU. Amazon has filed objections to the JFK8 election, which the NLRB will hear on May 23. Rather than letting the NLRB process play out, Chairman Sanders has inappropriately invited labor leaders to testify while an election result is being appealed. The ALU’s President, Chris Smalls, is a Democratic witness at Thursday’s hearing and will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Thursday.
This most recent interference is part of a larger pattern. The Biden Administration has weaponized the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the supposedly impartial agency in charge of overseeing representation elections, in service of its pro-union agenda. Just one week before the JFK8 vote, the NLRB filed an emergency injunction to force Amazon to rehire an employee that was terminated 23 months prior.
While the NLRB claimed the firing was designed to blunt the union’s momentum, the employee in question was terminated for hurling sexually-charged obscenities at a female coworker and livestreaming the attack on Facebook. The fired employee called his female coworker a “gutter bitch,” “ignorant and stupid,” “crack-head ass” among other obscenities and accused her of being “high” on “fentanyl.”
Instead of focusing on issues within its jurisdiction, Thursday’s Budget Committee hearing will serve as a platform for Chairman Sanders to advance the Biden Administration’s pro-union agenda.