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Senate Opponents Stop Union Bill

September 15, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate has effectively killed for this year a bill that would give small businesses more protections against ``salting,″ the practice of union organizers infiltrating open shops.

Supporters of the legislation, in a 52-42 vote, fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to keep the bill on the Senate floor.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., barely passed the House last March by 202-200 and faced a presidential veto. The administration, in a statement, said it would ``seriously erode fundamental National Labor Relations Act protections of workers’ rights to organize by allowing businesses to fire or refuse to hire union organizers.″

The legislation would amend the NLRA to make clear that an employer is not required to hire a person whose interests in seeking employment differ from those of the company.

Hutchinson argued that employees would continue to enjoy the right to organize, but that small companies needed protections from union organizers who join a business with the primary intent of disrupting employer-employee relations or harming the company through lawsuits.

He compared it to releasing termites in a house, saying that salting practices were ``not overt actions of organizing but rather they are covert efforts of deceiving and sabotage.″

But Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said the bill ``undermines the rights of workers to organize and improve their jobs″ and was ``the latest in a long series of Republican anti-labor, anti-union, anti-worker initiatives.″

AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney criticized the bill as a ``blatant attempt to erode workers’ rights to organize″ and said it overturned a unanimous 1995 Supreme Court decision barring discrimination against job applicants with ties to unions.

The bill has the support of many small business and contractor groups. The Independent Electrical Contractors said in a statement that the intention of ``salts″ was ``not to expand their employment or their ranks, but to simply destroy competition and drive open shops out of existence by using taxpayer dollars.″

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The bill is S. 1981.

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