The incoming House GOP majority is set to repeal a Pelosi-era provision letting congressional staffers collectively bargain.
House Republicans are set to vote on a rules package this week including language prohibiting staff from forming unions. GOP lawmakers say the push is needed to ensure staffers are “accountable to the elected officials they serve” and not organized labor.
“Congress’ unique office structure, fluctuating partisan balance, unpredictable schedule changes and unavoidable turnover due to elections make unions impractical in our offices and committees,” said outgoing Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, who served as the top Republican on the House administration committee.
The rule change is one of dozens House Republicans plan to push through to signal a break from the era of Democratic rule under Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Democrats say the push to repeal congressional unions will not be as simple as the GOP hopes. To succeed, they say Republicans will have to push through a change to the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, which lets congressional staff unionize provided each chamber passes a resolution authorizing the forming of collective bargaining units.
“Under the Congressional Accountability Act, rights that have been implemented can’t simply be taken away absent new legislation to change the act itself,” said Rep. Andy Levin, a retiring Michigan Democrat who spearheaded the effort to unionize House staff.
Any major change to the law would require the approval of both the House and Senate. That seems a tall order, given that Democrats expanded their majority within the upper chamber during last year’s midterm elections.