Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution during the Senate nomination hearing of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on Capitol Hill in Washington January 11, 2006. Roman Catholics would be the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court f
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) with another favorite prop

What's more important in a shutdown, that workers are protected from illegal firing and harassment, or that Sen. Tom Coburn have the continued service of each and every member of his staff? If you're Tom Coburn, the answer is obvious. The Oklahoma Republican is one of seven Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate who have kept all of their staff working through the shutdown. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board has just 11 people on the job. The outcome? Stories like this times we don't know how many:

On Monday, The Sentinel, of Hanford, Calif., reported that the shutdown has indefinitely delayed the re-certification vote for a cheese plant unionized by the Teamsters last year. The management at Marquez Brothers stopped recognizing the union last month after a group of workers petitioned to have the Teamsters dropped, according to the Sentinel. "NLRB employees who would have been [sic] supervised the voting have been furloughed," the paper reported.

The Ohio News-Messenger also reported that the shutdown has stayed a union election in Cleveland, where workers at a trash-hauling company were set to vote on whether or not to join the Teamsters. A local union official told the paper the vote had been pushed back but no new date had been set. In that case, four workers had filed complaints with the labor board, claiming they were fired because of their pro-union stances.

And according to the Communications Workers of America, the NLRB was in the midst of hearing unfair labor practice charges against Cablevision in New York when the government shutdown began.

But apparently all the lawyers and other workers at the NLRB who'd be moving those cases forward are less important than Coburn having his whole staff available to help him come up with compelling political theater like this:
Sen. Tom Coburn took out his frustrations about the nation’s burgeoning debt on a Senate poster on Tuesday, cutting it with scissors and then just ripping in half.

The Oklahoma Republican, one of the Senate’s most outspoken fiscal conservatives, had a poster made to resemble a massive credit card with the nation’s debt written on it as of Tuesday morning. Coburn asked for unanimous consent at one point to bring scissors on the floor “to make a point.”

And my goodness what an original point it was. Of course, while Coburn is claiming to care about debt, the shutdown's costs are growing rapidly. Not to mention that Republicans are ostensibly doing this whole thing to try to kill Obamacare, and killing Obamacare would increase the deficit. Ignore those men behind the curtain, though, while Coburn postures next to a poster of a credit card.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 07:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.