All four of Arkansas’ Congressmen voted in favor of a measure aimed at curtailing the National Labor Relations Board influence in business decisions involving unionized and right-to-work states.
The Protecting American Jobs from Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587) would prohibit the NLRB from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.
The bill stemmed from a controversial NLRB ruling earlier this year in which the labor panel accused Boeing of locating a new jetliner factory in South Carolina instead of Washington state to avoid dealing with unions. South Carolina is a right-to-work state, while Washington is not. Boeing officials denied the accusation and the NLRB ruling is winding its way through the legal process.
Workforce officials in Arkansas, also a right-to-work state, have worried that the NLRB ruling could impact job recruiting to the Natural State. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) voiced concerns in an interview earlier this summer.
"It could be detrimental to Arkansas’ economic development efforts if that is carried to some extreme conclusion," he said.
Recently, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) said he was monitoring the legal efforts to overturn the NLRB ruling, led by the state of South Carolina.
"I am deeply concerned that the NLRB is overstepping its authority in this matter, but I am willing to withhold my final judgment until due process in the matter has taken its course," McDaniel said in late August after State Rep. Andrea Lea (R-Russellville) asked him to join a legal action to block the NLRB ruling. McDaniel said Arkansas would help in appellate efforts, if necessary.
The Congressional vote on Thursday was expected to stall in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a majority. Still, Arkansas’ representatives – the 3 Republicans and one Democrat – said the bill was a necessity.
“At a time when the federal government should be doing all it can to encourage private-sector job creation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seems determined to put more Americans in the unemployment line," said Second District Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock). "This bill would stop the NLRB from deciding in which states a company can operate and create jobs. Arkansas tried to land the Boeing plant, and had we succeeded, Arkansas workers could have been the target of the NLRB. I am proud to vote for this bill on behalf of Arkansas’s workers and job creators.”
"Why on earth, in our country’s current situation, would the federal government tell American job creators where they can or cannot build a business? It makes no sense," said Third District Rep. Steve Womack (R-Rogers). "It’s this very kind of overregulation which is strangling businesses and stifling private sector job creation. American businesses will flourish when government removes regulatory restraints and gets out of the way. Today’s vote is another step in the right direction, but we have a long journey ahead of us. I encourage the president and Senate to join us in giving American job creators the certainty they so desperately need.”