Companies engaged in so-called union-busting tactics, such as hiring expensive law firms to subject their employees to anti-union meetings, can currently treat those expenses as tax write-offs.
But under a new US House of Representatives bill sponsored by Cindy Axne, Iowa’s lone federal Democratic representative, they would no longer be able to do so.
The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act, which was introduced July 20 by Rep. Donald Norcross of New Jersey, was co-sponsored by 101 other House Democrats and endorsed by several unions. It is currently under consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee.
“The right to collectively bargain is fundamental, and right now, big corporations are getting tax breaks from the federal government to prevent workers from exercising that right,” Axne said in a statement to Starting Line.
The bill would deny companies the ability to take tax deductions for “any expenses incurred” in trying to prevent their employees from unionizing. It would also require companies to “report on their attempts to influence their employees with respect to labor organizations and their activities.
“Folks are joining unions in record numbers here in Iowa and across the country, and I introduced this legislation to protect these workers and make sure that taxpayer dollars never finance corporate greed,” Axne added. “I’ll continue working with my colleagues in Congress to get this bill over the finish line because that’s what our workers deserve.”
Local union representatives say they’re in favor of the bill.
“It’s a great step forward for workers who wish to organize their workplace,” said Ryan Drew, a representative with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which represents seven southeast Iowa counties. “There are many challenges to organizing, and this would at least send a message that the government isn’t going to incentivize the behavior.”
It’s a problem that’s been going on for a while, officials say.
“For far too long, companies have been allowed to abuse the system when it comes to … busting unions and dismantling organizing drives,” said Rick Moyle, executive director of the Cedar Rapids-based Hawkeye Area Labor Council. “Any legislation that assures working people have a right to come together for the purpose of bettering their lives and workplace is good legislation.”
Beyond that, the legislation simply ensures current US law—the National Labor Relations Act—is being followed, said Charlie Wishman, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.
“The NLRA sets a policy that the United States government shall encourage collective bargaining,” Wishman said. “When a company actively works to stop union organizing, they are not going against the wishes of the workers and the policy of the US, but against what the vast amount of Americans support and the intent of the law.”
By Amie Rivers
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