Originally created 01/26/03

Rights bills pushed



U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., is best known for pushing Patients' Bill of Rights legislation, the essence of which would get managed-care bureaucrats out of the business of making medical decisions.

He came close in the last Congress, but when compromise plans collapsed, so did the bill. Norwood is reintroducing patient protection legislation this session. We wish him well. For Norwood, this is the embodiment of the adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

He'll be trying again on another pet project of his, the Workers' Bill of Rights. This hasn't got as much publicity as his patients' rights bill, but as chairman of the House Workforce Protection subcommittee the five-term congressman is no less committed to it.

The workers' rights measure focuses, in Norwood's words, on "the vast abuse of America's union workers at the hands of big labor bosses."

Its provisions, among other things, stops the bosses from taking dues from workers to spend on politicians or political agendas with which the workers disagree; takes away labor bosses' power to unilaterally call and end strikes; and prohibits employers and unions from conspiring to force union representation on workers who don't want it.

"Every day workers are forced to join unions against their free will, just to have a job and put food on the table," says Norwood. "Then their wages are garnished and used for political purposes. If a worker disapproves, they are met with inaction or a legal blockade of high-priced lawyers and unlimited resources ..."

Norwood's legislation would end these abuses. That's why it deserves public support. But in a cruel irony it will likely be a lot tougher to pass than the patients' rights bill, because the dues the bosses extract from workers for political purposes will be spent to get pro-union boss politicians to shoot down the reforms.