AFL-CIO tallies slew of anti-union votes in Congress

The national AFL-CIO — America’s premier federation of unions — has released its interim scorecard of members of Congress for votes cast so far in 2011.

Oregon Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and David Wu received 100 percent ratings. So did all four U.S. senators from Oregon and Washington.

The labor federation tallied votes on 18 pieces of legislation in the U.S. House, and four in the U.S. Senate.

In the Republican-led House, votes tracked included measures to repeal and defund last year’s health care reform law, strip all funding of the National Labor Relations Board (the NLRB administers private sector union elections and prosecutes certain abuses of workers’ rights), ban the use of project labor agreements on federal building projects and eliminate the requirement to pay the prevailing wage to construction workers on federal projects.

In the Democratic-led Senate, the votes tracked were on measures to strip collective bargaining rights from airport screeners, deprive flight crews of OSHA protections, and make it hard for agencies like OSHA to issue new rules to protect workers, as well as a budget resolution to continue funding of the government.

Greg Walden, Oregon’s only Republican member of Congress, had the lowest score in the state delegation, voting in accord with the AFL-CIO recommendation just 28 percent of the time (5 of 18 votes). Walden was one of about 50 Republicans to vote against four attempts to repeal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements. Walden also voted against the measure to defund the NLRB.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted with the AFL-CIO 89 percent of the time (16 of 18 votes); he disagreed with the federation about the necessity of voting for two substitutes to the Republican budget resolutions. One of the substitutes would have frozen non-security discretionary spending for five years.

Rep. Kurt Schrader also voted against those two, and he voted FOR a measure to cut spending for all non-defense items to 2008 levels. Those three disagreements with the AFL-CIO resulted in his 83 percent rating (15 of 18 votes).

Southwest Washington Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler agreed with the AFL-CIO just once — voting against defunding the NLRB — which earned her a 6 percent rating.

That wasn’t Washington’s lowest, however. House Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings had 0 percent ratings. Democrat Jim McDermott of Seattle had a 100 percent rating.

Some of the anti-union measures passed the House, but none of them went on to pass in the Senate. But the votes sometimes showed how polarized the two parties are on specific union questions. For example, last year, the federal agency that runs union elections for airline and rail workers ended a long-standing practice of counting workers as votes against unionization when they fail to vote. A measure to reinstate that practice got the support of 220 Republicans, but was opposed by 16 Republicans and all 190 Democrats. Meanwhile, measures to repeal the prevailing wage were opposed by virtually all Democrats but had the support of nearly four-fifths of Republicans.

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