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Letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee Opposing two Amendments to the Labor-HHS-Education Funding Bill

September 21, 2011

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association, we urge you to VOTE NO on two amendments to the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill before the Appropriations Committee this afternoon:

  • An amendment by Senator Graham that would gut the National Labor Relations Board’s  only effective enforcement mechanism, and
  • An amendment by Senator Shelby that would defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress.

The Graham amendment is similar to the misleadingly named “Protecting Jobs from Government Interference" Act, which passed the House last week.  The proposal will not protect jobs.  Rather, it will gut 70 year-old worker protections and put American workers and working families at risk. 

The amendment would open a huge hole in the National Labor Relations Act – a law that has protected American workers for more than 75 years.  The NLRA ensures workers’ rights to fight for better working conditions and to stand up for the salary and benefits they need to provide for their families.  By making it illegal to retaliate against workers who exercise their rights, the NLRA reflects the very values that make America great. 

In contrast, the Graham amendment is a reckless proposal that will destroy workers’ rights.  It strips from law the only meaningful remedy available to workers when companies violate their rights.  It would make it easier for companies to ship jobs overseas and would allow a company to close its doors and set up a new company down the street in order to bust a union. 

The Graham amendment is not about creating jobs, it is about undermining workers’ rights.  This attack on their rights, which departs from a long-preserved American tradition of democracy in the workplace, comes at a time when millions of American workers are struggling to meet their families’ basic needs.

The Shelby amendment would defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act – a landmark law that provided health care to millions of Americans.  NEA members across the country see first-hand every day the importance of access to health care for children’s success in school.  Students simply cannot learn unless they come to school healthy.  Families with access to regular medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.  Defunding the Affordable Care Act would be devastating to millions of children and their families.  It would mean a loss of coverage for 32 million Americans who would be uninsured without the new law, including many students sitting in NEA members’ classrooms every day. 

Again, we urge you to VOTE NO on both the Graham and Shelby amendments. 


Kim Anderson        
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy