Johnny Isakson's Position Statement on Employment and the Workplace

As a businessman who has employed hundreds of workers over more than 30 years, I have always worked to ensure full and fair enforcement of the laws designed to protect American workers. At the same time, it is imperative we don’t overburden America’s entrepreneurs and small businesses with job-killing, European-style employer mandates.

Throughout my time in the Senate, it has been my privilege to serve as the senior Republican on the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, a key Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over a variety of laws governing the workplace, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

National Labor Relations Board
When it became clear after the 2010 elections that the labor unions’ push to take away the secret ballot in union elections through proposed legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as Card Check, was not going to pass in Congress, the National Labor Relations Board stepped in with an aggressive strategy of overreaching actions that appear to be aimed at increasing membership in labor unions and giving labor unions an advantage over management.

Mini unions – In August 2011, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision in the “Specialty Healthcare” case that set a new precedent allowing unions to target small numbers of employees within a company for the purpose of organizing them into micro bargaining units. For example, in one grocery store, the cashiers could form one “mini union,” the baggers could form another, the produce stockers could form yet another, and so on. This could potentially create several different unions within the same store location, making it easier for unions to gain access to employees and nearly impossible for employers to manage such fragmentation of the workforce. I will continue fight against the bad precedent set by this federal labor board in the Specialty Healthcare decision.

Ambush elections – A new rule by the National Labor Relations Board effective in April 2012 would significantly alter the pre-election process for union elections, resulting in a much shorter time period – as little as 10 days in some cases – between the filing of an election petition and the actual election being held. This rule will leave employers with less time to prepare for the election and with fewer options to challenge any problems with the election process. I am working with my Senate colleagues to try to reverse this rule.

Balancing Work and Family
I firmly believe the best ideas on how to help American workers balance their jobs and families do not emanate from the halls of Congress but rather flow from the creativity and ingenuity of the American people. In our 21st Century economy, working families are faced with countless new challenges and opportunities. Today, new industries are born overnight. Living rooms are workplaces. International negotiations are conducted from coffee shops. This ongoing modernization of our workplace forces me to oppose European-style labor law changes that needlessly hinder the free-flow of commerce.

We must reexamine some of the decades-old labor laws that simply have no relevance in this day and age. I support allowing employers to offer bonuses to hourly employees without the needlessly complex paperwork that is required under current labor law. Private-sector workers should have the option to enter voluntarily into arrangements whereby they can transfer up to 10 hours of work over a two-week period. Similarly, I support allowing workers to bank overtime hours for up to a year to be taken whenever they choose, whether to see a child's soccer game or take a vacation.

Our modern economy features a highly diversified workforce collaborating and cooperating to provide goods and services faster, better, and cheaper. This is the reality for working families in the 21st Century, and our workplace policies should reflect it.

Employment and the Workplace News Releases