Employers Look To Congress To Balance Labor Scale

Fred Wszolek
January 31, 2012
The Hill

Over the course of the last three years, President Obama has waged a rhetorical campaign against special interests and their influence in Washington DC, while at the same time spearheading an effort to deliver unprecedented giveaways to his largest and most influential campaign contributor, labor bosses.

The heads of unions have been the most frequent visitors to the White House and they have openly bragged about having access to administration officials every day of the week, including weekends. They have also candidly spoken about using administrative agencies full of unelected bureaucrats to create policies that they have been unable to move forward in the Congress due to their lack of popularity with workers and business owners.

At every step of the way, this president has ceded to big labor’s demands and sacrificed the interests of employees and employers as he travels the country extoling the importance of job creation and economic growth. For those who feel deep uncertainty about the state of the nation’s economy or threatened by the edicts handed down by the National Labor Relations Board, the administration’s conduct has been breathtaking from two perspectives, the breadth of its hypocrisy and outright resentment for the business sector.

That ultimately leaves job creators with few places to turn outside Congress and the courts. With respect to the latter, business groups such as the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and National Federation of Independent Businesses have already sought to challenge the legality of the recent non-recess appointments of Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the National Labor Relations Board made by President Obama while the Congress was still convening regularly and even though the nominees had only been named weeks prior. Secondly, as Obama’s labor board issues decisions on matters, there will be additional legal challenges questioning the constitutional authority of board members who were placed on the National Labor Relations Board despite the fact the Congress had not recessed.

With regard to the former, business groups will work in 2012 to get members of Congress, particularly the U.S. Senate on the record concerning critical legislation that undoes the destructive and job-killing decisions made by Obama’s regulators.  Just this past week, Chairman Mark Pearce indicated the National Labor Relations Board will continue its gross overreach in labor law saying, “We keep our eye on the prize.”

The prize? Requirements that employers hand over to labor organizers proprietary employee information including phone numbers and emails, electronic voting from remote sites which greatly enhances the likelihood of coercion and significantly diminishes the integrity of the vote, and expedited voting procedures that disallow employers from communicating with employees about the implications of forming a collective bargaining unit.

There are already various pieces of legislation in the Senate that merit consideration. In an election year, the time could not be better to see where elected officials fall on bills ending efforts such as “quickie” or “ambush” elections and the formation of “micro-units.” The House already acted late last year by passing the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094), which protects the free speech and rights of employees, and ensures misguided policies such as “ambush” elections and the formation of “micro-units” no longer threaten American employers. The Senate should vote on this bill and get every member of the upper chamber on the record.

Next, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced that he will challenge the NLRB’s expedited election rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA requires a simple majority vote in both chambers and will inform business owners where their representatives stand on “quickie” elections, which forces workers into unions.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), has introduced the Representation Fairness Restoration Act (S. 1843). The bill has dozens of co-sponsors and seeks to overturn the National Labor Relations Board decision allowing unions to organize “micro units” within businesses. Obama’s labor board has stated union organizers can form “micro-units” for the purpose of collective bargaining with as few as two or three workers. This would cause an employer’s labor costs to skyrocket and result in job losses and business closures. Senator Isakson’s bill protects employees and employers and should be brought to a vote.

Last August, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Employee Rights Act (S.1507 & H.R.2810), which would require unions face a recertification election every three years so that workers – some of whom never voted for the union – have the opportunity to express their preference concerning representation, prevent big labor bosses from intimidating or coercing workers in an effort to keep them from exercising their rights on various matters including decertification, and protect the sanctity of the secret ballot in workplace elections. The Employee Rights Act should receive a vote so constituents know where their senators stand.

Each of these are noteworthy pieces of legislation and American citizens deserve to know whether their representatives are willing to defend their interests or carry big labor’s water. With an election in less than a year where voters will decide the fate of the presidency, entire U.S. House and a third of the Senate, there has never been a more appropriate time to ascertain where elected officials stand on issues related directly to jobs.

Working with friends in the business community who represent the employees and employers in neighborhoods throughout the nation, the Workforce Fairness Institute will seek action on these matters as citizens have clearly expressed their opposition to the Obama labor agenda, and now, Congress must answer a fundamental question: do you stand with the president and labor bosses or American workers and job creators?

Fred Wszolek is a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute.

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