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Democrats' spending package is about more than money for unions

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Unions are lobbying fiercely and spending liberally in support of Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar social spending package — and not just because of the jobs it could create for their members.

Tucked amid the investments in child care, higher education and clean energy are below-the-radar provisions that would make it easier for workers to organize, such as giving the National Labor Relations Board sharper teeth and empowering it to conduct union elections online.

Both of those policies are also included in the Protecting the Right to Organize Act — an overhaul of U.S. labor law Democrats drafted to resuscitate tapering union membership, which is stalled in the Senate.

How much the language in the spending bill could really move the needle on the fortunes of organized labor remains to be seen. It must also survive the Byrd rule, which allows only spending-related legislation to move through the reconciliation process that Democrats intend to use to pass the bill. Democrats have had one of their other top priorities — immigration reform — stymied by the rule already.

Union officials are pouring time, money and energy into making sure the provisions — which they helped shape — make it across the finish line. If they are successful, it could constitute the biggest pro-union shift in U.S. labor law since the National Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1935, labor experts said.

“Labor is not only all over supporting it, it has helped craft it,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in an interview.

Some on the employer side of the table say the provisions are far too consequential to be tucked into a massive spending bill.

“These are cataclysmic questions of the most fundamental policy that have gargantuan implications for the way labor and management is going to work together or not work together in this country,” said attorney Michael Lotito, who represents employers for the law firm Littler. “And this type of fundamental policy change is being done........

© Politico

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