Bills don’t support workers

Published 10:28 am Thursday, June 26, 2014

Congressman Bill Johnson has adopted many talents while representing Ohio’s 6th Congressional District in Washington.

Time and again, Johnson has demonstrated his proficiency in misleading the public by introducing and endorsing legislation with charming titles to mask their potentially devastating impact to the working families of our district.

Last year, Johnson voted in favor of the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” which would, according to the bill’s sponsors, give employees the freedom to determine work schedules and time off.

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This legislation would provide private sector employees the option of “comp time” that can only be used at the employer’s discretion, in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked. However, when the boss is in charge of determining when an employee may take accrued comp time, employees may find themselves working longer hours without overtime pay and hoping that their boss might allow them to use their earned time off when asked.

In reality, H.R. 1406 should have been titled the “Pay Working Families Less Act,” due to the bill undermining the 40-hour workweek, cutting workers’ pay, and providing no guarantee of paid vacation days for employees when they need them.

Similarly, Johnson voted in favor of the “Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act,” which would require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to “cease all activity that requires a quorum.”

The NLRB is tasked with ensuring American workers have a fair workplace by conducting union elections and working to prevent (or remedy) unlawful practices on the part of employers or unions.

However, by ordering the NLRB to cease all activity, the bill would not only shut down the agency, but would deprive workers of their legal rights when they have been illegally fired, retaliated against, denied the right to bargain with their employer, or otherwise had their legal rights violated.

As a result, employers could ignore the law, knowing that there would not be a timely decision against them by the NLRB. Despite its title, H.R. 1120 was misguided legislation that would create vast uncertainty and chaos in the labor-management system.

Finally, Johnson has repeatedly displayed his talent in misleading the public on his support of working families by casting nearly 40 votes in his first three years in office forbidding prevailing wage and project labor agreements (PLAs) on various projects.

The Davis-Bacon Act ensures workers on public construction projects, funded by taxpayer dollars, are paid wages comparable to the local standard or “prevailing” wage. More importantly, the Act prevents contractors from low-balling bids and undercutting community wages with cheap, unskilled labor.

Comparably, PLAs require construction jobs to be filled by local workers; establishes wages, working hours and dispute resolution; and ensures safety guidelines on job sites are enforced. Each vote in opposition of prevailing wage and PLAs is a vote to lower income for working families.

We cannot sit idly by and let Johnson hide behind charming titles and continually support legislation that would repeal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, and prohibit the use of PLAs on federal projects.

As a daughter of a union plumber, I understand the importance of organized labor to working families. Unlike Johnson, I have never waivered in support for collective-bargaining rights, prevailing wage, and project labor agreements.

As your member of Congress, I would always vote in the best interest of working families.


Jennifer Garrison is a Democratic Candidate for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District. The 6th Congressional District includes all or parts of Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Scioto, Tuscarawas and Washington counties.