President Barack Obama has used his veto power today to block legislation aimed at curtailing union powers.
The Republican controlled Congress had passed a measure which restricted the ability for trade unions to rapidly change leaders.
This measure was directed against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who had earlier moved to streamline the process of union elections, reducing a previous 25 day waiting period to as little as 14 days.
These rules were brought in to prevent a minority of employers from unnecessarily drawing out union elections to use the time to intimidate their workers.
Obama reportedly declared these changes “common sense” before vetoing the Republican measure, asserting that the government should not try and infringe on workers’ rights.
The President elaborated in a statement: “Workers deserve a level playing field that lets them freely choose to make their voices heard, and this requires fair and streamlined procedures for determining whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. Because this resolution seeks to undermine a streamlined democratic process that allows American workers to freely choose to make their voices heard, I cannot support it.”
The Republican Party, alongside business lobby groups opposed the NLRB union election changes. They claim that the new decision, which their party tried to block in Congress, would have allowed unions to call “ambush elections”.
“The NLRB’s ambush election rule is an assault on the rights and privacy protections of American workers,” said Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in a statement.
“With his veto, the president has once again put the interests of his political allies ahead of the small business owners and hardworking Americans,” he continued.
The NLRB adopted the new union election reforms last year and they are set to take effect April 14.
Despite this they still faces court challenges in Washington, D.C. and Texas from business groups who claim it is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, claiming it does not giving employers sufficient time to prepare for elections.