(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration may be pushing for more deregulation and greater amounts of worker freedom, but the mid-level bureaucracy isn’t getting the message.

Witness the decision by the federal Department of Labor (DoL) to withhold funds from Iowa transit projects because Iowa dared give individual workers the right to avoid forced unionization.

“For years, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) bureaucrats have exploited a vague provision in the 1964 Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA) to bully municipalities across America,” reports the National Right to Work Committee. “[T]his bureaucratic blackmail is continuing during the Trump Administration, despite the current White House’s strongly pro-Right to Work public stance.”

The use of this “bully[ing]… blackmail” stems from Section 5333(b) of the U.S. Transportation Code. When read in conjunction with other parts of the federal code, it allows – but does not require – DoL to withhold federal mass transit funds for which a municipality is otherwise qualified if there is a lack of “continuation of collective bargaining rights.” The idea is to protect workers from involuntarily losing union representation. Yet somehow, over the years, this provision has been interpreted to require forced unionization even of workers who may desire other arrangements.

Iowa recently passed a law allowing transportation workers who choose to partially withdraw from union representation for benefits and work rules – perhaps because they don’t want to pay the dues, or perhaps because they think they can arrange better agreements themselves – to do so without penalty. (Union bosses still would maintain control over basic wages/salaries. Apparently, that’s not enough for DoL bureaucrats.) In reply, DoL informed the city of Dubuque that its application for a $1 million transit grant, for which it otherwise qualifies, may be denied.

“Federal funding makes up more than 40 percent of [the transit system’s] operating budget, and some other transit agencies in the state are in the same boat,” reported the local Telegraph Herald….

 

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