Now ending his first term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., is championing a proposal to “clarify the rights of not-for-profit religious employers under the National Labor Relations Act” and protect religious organizations from labor unions.
Earlier this month, Rooney unveiled the “Freedom for Religious Communities Act" and on Monday he offered his take on why he had brought it out.
“Religious organizations should not be forced to bend to the will of labor unions. I introduced this bill to ensure these organizations, such as churches and religious universities, can best meet the needs of the people they serve without being held back by unnecessary restrictions,” Rooney said.
“A case involving non-teaching employees at Saint Xavier University, a Catholic university, demonstrates this overreach,” Rooney added. “The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a group of employees did not participate in the religious mission of the school, and thus were not exempt from the NLRA requirements, while teaching employees were. This distinction is arbitrary and infringes on the operations of the religious institution.”
“The Freedom for Religious Communities Act exempts religious organizations from requirements for employers under the NLRA including the mandates to allow employees to form unions, engage in collective bargaining and take collective action,” the congressman’s office noted.
With the clock ticking until a new Congress convenes at the start of the new year, time is against Rooney, especially as his measure probably won’t gain much traction when the Democrats take over the House in January. Rooney has reeled in a single cosponsor in U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind.
Earlier this month, the bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.
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