The NLRB’s Threat To An Economic Recovery

Katie Gage
March 21, 2011

There is an agency in Washington, D.C. that is aggressively pursuing a plan to increase union power to the detriment of legitimate management and employee interests including the interests of the our country’s principal job creators, small business. Instead of fairly interpreting and enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the agency is reversing decades of its own precedent. Ignoring its intended role – to be an independent agency of the Executive Branch – the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is fulfilling our earlier predictions that it would be nothing more than an extension of Big Labor. We now know what the leaders of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who pushed for the recess-appointment of filibustered labor radical Craig Becker, meant what they said when they stated they were looking forward to working with the new members of the NLRB. Can you imagine the reaction from labor leaders and the news media if business leaders said the same thing?

In the past, the NLRB has been able to work largely unnoticed, out of the limelight. But with the nation’s anemic economic recovery, high unemployment rate, changes on Capitol Hill and the board’s sweeping anti-business agenda, its ability to operate in the shadows has sharply diminished.

Most recently, in a case known as Specialty Healthcare, the NLRB caused widespread alarm in the American business community when it asked for a briefing on whether it should approve very small collective bargaining units – one for every kind of job in an employer’s plant or company. Such a drastic change in existing board law, while it would make initial union organizing easier, would splinter employers’ business operations and harm the long-term interests of employees. Instead of approving larger groups of employees with common interests, such as plant-wide units that are now considered “presumptively appropriate,” the NLRB suggests it may approve a multitude of very small collective bargaining units. For example, a grocery store could find itself divided into bargaining units with a unit for cashiers, one for baggers, one for deli attendants another for the bakery staff and so on.

It is well recognized that such a proliferation of units creates discord, pitting one employee group against another, increasing the likelihood of work stoppages and business slowdowns and making collective bargaining less likely to succeed. And the administrative and legal costs to the employer will increase dramatically. Money will be spent on the employer’s labor relations costs instead of on hiring new workers, expanding service offerings and purchasing new equipment, all of which would make workers and business owners more successful.

The percentage of workers in the private sector represented by Big Labor has fallen for the first time to below seven percent. This is because employees are not buying what union bosses are selling: an opportunity to put their employer out of business with inflexible work rules that hobble the employer’s ability to compete, and wages and benefits it cannot afford. This is precisely what took place with the auto companies, which the government bailed out with tens of billions in taxpayer dollars. Today, labor bosses want to give the employees of small businesses the same opportunities they gave the employees of the automobile industry, but government will not be there to bail their employers out. So Big Labor needs this relatively unknown agency within the Federal government to stack the deck in its favor and it appears more than willing to do so.

It is well known that all of this is the brainchild of NLRB recess appointee Craig Becker, a former AFL-CIO and SEIU lawyer. He cannot reasonably be expected to support, much less be able to engage in, a balanced interpretation of the NLRA. Now that he sits on the board with two other union-side labor lawyers, we must be vigilant in holding the NLRB to its mission of protecting worker rights through a balanced interpretation of the act, not a strained interpretation plainly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and focused on perceived interests Big Labor.

Members of the Senate and House have shown that they are becoming increasingly alarmed by some of the NLRB’s recent decisions. The Congress should begin to take whatever actions are necessary to restrain the board and contain the damage.

Tell Congress: Stop the PRO Act

WFI is working to prevent passage of the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)—a wholesale labor reform package that takes the current careful balance of labor rules and tips it greatly in the favor of labor bosses and forced collective bargaining.

The PRO Act robs workers of the right to a secret ballot to form a union, forces union contracts on workers without a vote of approval, and expose workers’ personal contact information to union bosses seeking to organize a workplace. And that’s just the start.

Help us speak out against this woefully misguided and blatantly anti-worker legislation. Review and send the message below to your members of Congress today.

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WFI Key Vote Letter: Opposition to PRO Act

— 02.10.2020 —
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy: On behalf of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), I am writing to share our organization’s vehement opposition to H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act). WFI has serious concerns with the broad, overreaching nature of this legislation and the many ways in which it would undermine worker freedom and privacy, while simultaneously threatening businesses and entire industries that keep America’s economy thriving. Please note that WFI will include votes on the PRO Act and its amendments on our Congressional Labor Scorecard, which scores and ranks legislators based on their activity associated with workplace issues. WFI was established to fight for American employees and employers as well as our entire economy. We believe in worker empowerment, the right of workers to be fully informed of the options available for worker-involvement in the workplace, and the right to freely choose whether to organize or not. No individual or group – government, a union or an employer – should be able to intimidate or restrict workers’ in exercising these rights. In an attempt to boost flailing union membership at the expense of workers’ rights, the PRO Act would upend decades of established U.S. labor law and institute myriad anti-employee and anti-employer policies that have already been soundly rejected—by Congress, various federal agencies, or the courts. Among its most blatant affronts to workers’ rights, the PRO Act would eliminate the right to a secret ballot when determining whether to unionize and enforce a “card check” system, exposing workers to the potential for harassment, intimidation, and coercion. The PRO Act would also enforce binding arbitration in union negotiations by a government- appointed bureaucrat; repeal and eliminate right-to-work laws in 27 states, force workers to fund union activities regardless of whether they support them; and threaten the ability of individuals to operate as independent contractors, eliminating traditional economic and employment opportunities and threatening the independence and flexibility of the emerging gig economy. On top of all that, the PRO Act would force all workers’ personal and home contact information to be provided to a union during organizing campaigns – in an electronic, searchable format no less, with no limit on what a union can do with that information. WFI believes in advancing sensible policies that protect and preserve the rights of both employees and employers, and we welcome the opportunity to work with legislators who also support these efforts. However, the PRO Act does not achieve these goals and would instead threaten the rights of both while jeopardizing our entire economy. WFI urges members of the House to strongly oppose the PRO Act. Sincerely, Heather Greenaway Executive Director Workforce Fairness Institute See the letter here.
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