The Worst May Be Yet To Come From Obama’s Regulatory Board

Fred Wszolek
June 18, 2011

As more Americans become familiar with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) due to the complaint it filed against the Boeing Company for building a production facility in a right-to-work state against the wishes of the union representing its Washington State employees, the regulatory agency stocked with President Obama’s appointees continues to deliberate over job-killing policies that reward Big Labor bosses and hurt workers.
In addition to threatening companies that want to create jobs in the 22 states that have passed right-to-work laws, which protect a worker’s freedom of association by prohibiting unions and employers from making membership in the union a condition of employment, the NLRB announced that it was considering a sweeping new change that would give Big Labor easy access to non-union employers, but which threatens the cohesiveness of the workplace and dramatically increases costs and litigation on employers in one of the worst economies since the Great Depression.

The case known as Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile would make a sweeping new standard for defining what a collective bargaining unit is. Whereas in the past it could be all the employees of the employer or something less, such as a department, the new standard gives Big Labor a green light to organize as few as two or more persons doing the same job in the same location. Since it is easier to organize two employees than 50, these micro-units will make it easier for Big Labor to gain access into a non-union employer, but will deprive workers their right to collective bargaining strength, and they threaten a proliferation of units balkanizing the workplace and increasing the burden on employers.

Yet, these aren’t the only job-killing policies Obama’s regulatory board is considering. With unemployment over nine percent and every major economic indicator revealing serious challenges for families and small businesses, the NLRB has indicated in public commentary that it is considering changing the time frame within which union elections take place. Big Labor is pushing the idea, supported by its allies at the NLRB of squeezing a 38-day median election period into as little as seven to 10 days after a petition is filed.

As things stand today, voting to form a union takes a median of 38 day’s time after the initial election petition is submitted. This gives employers, unions and workers the chance to share information, set election rules and seek outside counsel if it is required. Typically, by the time the workplace election takes place, everybody has at least had a chance to receive information, consider the merits of forming a collective bargaining unit, and make a decision free from unnecessary anxiety and confusion.

Even though unions win a good majority of workplace elections, their numbers are diminishing as most employees are satisfied with their working conditions and oppose giving away hard-earned dollars to union bosses as opposed to keeping those funds themselves. Unfortunately, instead of standing with workers and respecting their decisions, NLRB members like Craig Becker and Mark Pearce believe it is the government’s job to force unionization on workers. Becker wrote in the past that employers “should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election.” And Pearce has thrown around the idea that elections should happen within five to 10 days after the initial petition.

All of this is a blatant giveaway to labor bosses that disadvantages workers and businesses by depriving the workplace of an informed electorate. But this approach is not in any way new for President Obama’s regulatory agency, which has defined itself as a radical government bureaucracy committed to inhibiting growth and job creation at every turn. Moreover, this effort is consistent with the failed legislation supported by union bosses called the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA), which would have instituted card check sanctioning intimidation and coercion in workplace elections and depriving employers of any opportunity to express their view on unionization. Quickie elections serve the same goal by limiting the business’ ability to express its views. The union model will be to gather signatures on petitions covertly approaching employees one at a time and then surprise the employer and its other employees with a petition and an election to be held within days. Employees will receive enormous pressure from organizers to support the union and sign the petition with little access to objective data.

Beyond limiting information sharing, quickie elections exploit Big Labor’s size, giving them an advantage over many small businesses. Whereas many employers may not even know that the NLRB exists or what it does, let alone have the resources for an attorney or labor counsel, union bosses have resources and connections on hand which would come to bear immediately as a business owner attempts to figure out how to respond to organizers seeking an election.

In the end, what is clear is that the NLRB will have strayed still further from its true purpose of making sure relations between employers and unions in the private sector are fair and that the interests of workers are protected. It has become an advocacy arm of Big Labor bosses with an activist agenda that results in less jobs.

President Obama has stacked his regulatory agency with labor radicals in return for hundreds of millions in campaign contributions. For example, before joining the board, Chairman Wilma Liebman was a Teamster’s lawyer and Craig Becker, who had to be recess-appointed by Obama because his views were considered so far out of the mainstream, served as counsel to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Voting in an election determining whether your workplace is going to be unionized requires serious thought and consideration, just as voting in municipal, Congressional or presidential elections. Voters are asked by candidates to consider the facts and the merits of their arguments as the discussion evolves, yet President Obama, Big Labor and the NLRB want to deny the American worker that opportunity in workplace elections. They understand that fewer workers are opting for unions, so their plan is to force unionization upon them before they have had a chance to consider all the data.

Closing the election window will further demonstrate that the un-elected government bureaucrats appointed by President Obama to the NLRB are set on advancing the interests of union bosses without regard to workers’ rights, which is killing jobs across this country at a time when the economy is already in deep peril.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson with the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).

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