“Micro-Unions” Are A Big Deal To American Employers

Fred Wszolek
March 22, 2012

In business, much like in most other fields, the person taking risk and branching out to start a new company or hire additional workers looks at his/her books to ensure their finances are in order, but then oftentimes makes a gut decision about how they feel about the likely success of the venture. This is what entrepreneurialism is all about: working hard, measuring success and seeking to prosper further. This cycle is repeated thousands of times every day in our nation as Americans make our economy grow one business at a time.

But the calculations made by these current and future employers largely depend on one variable: certainty. Will the rules of the game change? Are the forces in a particular state capital or Washington stacked against them? Can they have confidence bureaucrats and regulators won’t make it difficult to succeed, much less survive? These are the questions people ask themselves before risking their earnings and savings and that of their families to undertake an endeavor in the marketplace.

President Obama is a well-known basketball fan and it is only appropriate to draw a parallel with the game during March Madness. A point guard needs to know the power forward is going to be on the block before he makes the pass under the basket. His teammate doesn’t actually have to be there when the ball leaves his hands, but he does require the certainty that his fellow player will be there once the ball arrives. One might refer to that as confidence. Without it, that team is unlikely to win. It seems simple to understand and completely logical.

Why then does the Obama Administration continue to advance proposals through an agency stocked with unelected bureaucrats that hurt job creators and spread deep concern and uncertainty among the very employers we need to lift us out of possibly the slowest and most lethargic recovery in our nation’s history?

It simply boggles the mind. It makes zero sense. And it isn’t that the White House doesn’t know what it’s doing; instead, they have decided that they want their cake and eat it too.

First, they reward their friends in Big Labor with decisions by a so-called “independent” labor board that they have stocked with loyal partisans who could not be confirmed in the U.S. Senate; therefore, they simply recess appoint them even though no recess was actually taking place.

Next, having placated for the moment the union bosses who are poised to spend a half billion dollars on the President’s re-election, the White House focuses on the optics. They trot out the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to tell “agencies that they need to work on the front end, with the public and stakeholders, to avoid redundant, conflicting, or overly burdensome requirements.”

Really? While that may make good politics in the Obama Administration, it also makes for disastrous economic policy because it insults the intelligence of every business owner and trade group representing them in Washington, and sends the message that the President’s success at the ballot box is more important than the business owners’ success in the marketplace.

This is exhibited clearly in the administration’s position on the formation of “micro-unions.” The very concept makes people laugh, but they are a serious matter and are forcing more and more businesses, particularly retailers, to simply tighten up and ride out the storm rather than seeking to grow, and yes, hire.

A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows as few as two people to form a unit for collective bargaining. Imagine for a moment you popped into a local hardware store and the employees in the plumbing section were represented by one union, while the employees in the electrical division were represented by another, not to mention the workers in the power tools, flooring, garden and paint departments. Each unit would negotiate its own contract and against the most recent agreement reached with one of the other unions.

Would that encourage job creation? Would that entice employers to invest in expansion as opposed to directing precious resources toward human resource and legal costs? Would it improve your shopping experience and keep prices down? Of course not.

Micro-unions create division, discord and disharmony in the workplace as these little unions would negotiate against one another, while business owners would become entangled in an expensive mess of union red tape and competing demands. That doesn’t create jobs, generate growth or help the economy recover. What it does do is increase union membership rates and the amount of dues collected by labor bosses so they can in turn pump more money into political campaigns to support allies like President Obama.

If the administration is determined to turn around the economy, they should immediately put a stop to “redundant, conflicting, or overly burdensome requirements” as opposed to pretending to do so and sending the message to workers and small businesses they’re not serious about creating jobs.

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By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
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