After November 3rd, Workplace Policy Expertise in Congress Will Be Scarcer Than Ever

10/23/20

Republicans have no chance of regaining the House.  None.  The Democratic majority could expand.  Open seats of retiring Republican members north of Indianapolis, South Shore Long Island, the southwest Houston suburbs, and Atlanta’s northeast ‘burbs, among others could go the Democrats’ way. 

That’s not to say no Republicans will flip Democratically held seats.   Republican challengers are pressuring a trio of long-serving Dems.  House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ron Kind (D-WI) are in red-ish districts and could be vulnerable.  But other than the magnitude of Biden coattails, it might not matter to HR Policy members if a career state politician, a hero of the French train attack, and a Navy Seal win those seats.   
 
That’s just more evidence that the ranks of members of Congress with real-life experience in our issues is thin and getting thinner.   We are always building relationships with leaders who want to get things done on the Hill but don’t expect to see an influx in human resources experts in January.  
 
There are a handful. 
 
Minnesota Democrat Angie Craig was the CHRO at St. Jude Medical.  She gets us but isn’t on our committee of jurisdiction, Education and Labor.  Craig is in a tough race in a purple district.
 
Lisa Blunt Rochester  (D-DE) was the Secretary of Labor in Delaware and was a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  She sits on Ed and Labor and was a founder of the Future of Work Caucus.  She has chops on our issues but perhaps from a different perspective.  She will have some pull as a Biden confidant and she was on the Democratic nominee’s vice-presidential search committee.  Or she may go into a Biden administration, maybe the Labor Department. 
 
We are losing the expertise of former management-side lawyer Bradley Byrne (R-AL) who lost a race for Senate.   Mr. Byrne was a champion for us on joint employer and many other workplace issues.
 
The point is:  don’t expect 20 new Congressmen and women who happen to be CHROs and management-side labor lawyers to save the day for us.  We are going to have to do it ourselves.  There are plenty of dedicated public servants in Congress with diverse backgrounds who want to improve the lot for American workers and their employers.  They are often supported by super smart and super young staff who have rarely held jobs outside of politics before arriving on Capitol Hill.   With few expert defenders in Congress, we must tell our story to elected officials and staff.  HR Policy will continue advocating on your behalf.  We team with others in the employer community to make your case.  
 
In meetings with members and staff, the comment we hear the most is some version of: “We need to hear that from the district.” What this means is, “you are making a good point but my boss needs to hear that point from his or her constituents or voters.”  
 
That’s you, the members of HR Policy Association.  
 
Be ready in the new year to invite new, and long-tenured, members of Congress to tour your factory or sales floor.  Your senator or representative would love to cut the ribbon on a new facility.  The members of Congress will be accompanied by their district directors, and those are good people to get to know too. Be ready to tell your story about jobs created in your district, your dedication to diversity, and your commitment to your neighborhood.  
 
It’s true, there aren’t dozens of Congressional experts on secondary boycotts and proxy advisor firms. But that’s ok.  You and your colleagues are the experts – on not only your industry but your communities.  And elected officials really prefer to hear what you have to say.