By Barbara Comstock
“We screwed up the U.S. economy, now we can tackle Europe…” This alleged “joke” was from an email authored by the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It unintentionally captures what is going on at the National Labor Relations Board – an unelected board that is mightily trying to legislate a partisan union agenda by regulation is definitely screwing up the U.S. economy. The NLRB, which is currently trying to shut down a Boeing South Carolina plant, which would provide thousands of new jobs, and has a whole host of job-killing activities that if not stopped will continue to hurt the economy and job creation.
Instead of working with job creators, union bosses are now pushing a purely partisan agenda through agency fiat to change union election rules in order to inflate their union membership rolls. While this might help fatten their coffers and provide them with more campaign cash to distribute to favored candidates who promote their agenda, it does nothing for the average worker or business owner to create jobs. This partisan agenda also undermines employee choice as to whether or not they want to join a union. Congress is now properly asserting its role with the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094). This legislation will restore rights to employees and employers and curb the undemocratic legislating by regulation effort going on at the NLRB that is stifling job creation.
This pro-jobs/pro-employer/pro-worker legislation would:
- Allow employers to have at least 14 days to find proper counsel and prepare their case before a National Labor Relations Board pre-election hearing.
- Ensure the NLRB reviews any appeal filed when the pre-election hearing is complete.
- Give workers at least 35 days to listen to both sides in the union debate before they cast their votes in an organizing election.
- Apply the “sufficient community of interest” test to determine which group of workers will vote in an election instead of allowing unions to cherry pick small groups of workers to form “micro-units.”
- Safeguard worker privacy by letting workers control how much personal information about them is provided to unions during organization drives.
Sound reasonable, pro-worker and balanced, right? Transparent, fair union elections with safeguards for privacy – isn’t that how we want important workplace decisions to be made?
Unfortunately, union interests strongly oppose these common sense guidelines. The reason the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act is necessary is because the NLRB has been undemocratically undermining the rights of workers and employers by legislating through an administrative agency and forcing new election rules on them that would tip the playing field to union interests and put new burdens on job creators. At the behest of labor bosses, the NLRB has proposed rules that would shorten the timeframe for union elections – so called “quickie elections” which could be held as quickly as 10 days from first announced. The NLRB also has issued a decision allowing very small groups of employees in a workplace to form collective bargaining units with little consideration being given to the wishes of many of the employees themselves in those units.
Big Labor bosses don’t like it when employees say “no” to a union. They almost automatically attribute rejection of a union to employer malfeasance rather than employee choice. “Quickie” or “ambush” elections and “micro-units” are strongly supported by Big Labor bosses who believe that changing the rules and limiting information available to employees will increase union membership. Over the past six decades, the number of unionized workers has declined dramatically. When given a choice, workers often recognize that with many legal protections such as anti-discrimination and safety laws in place, they do not need to pay additional cash out of their pockets to a union to obtain what is their legal right already. Employees these days understand the need for flexibility in the workplace that doesn’t align with the one size fits all policies of Big Labor. Labor bosses too often treat workers in a condescending manner which presumes they can’t discern what is in their own best interest. They want to take away the choice to unionize from employees and force workers into unions.
Workers and small businesses need to be able to enjoy the protection of our labor laws and have a choice in whether or not they are in a union. Under the current highly-partisan, agenda-driven membership of the NLRB, they can’t. They don’t know which pro-union boss rule is going to be imposed by fiat next and what taxpayer-funded lawsuits from government agencies or unions might come their way. Long-standing precedent or the simple text of the law is no longer sufficient for the NLRB. Instead, the current motto of that agency seems to be “what Big Labor wants, Big Labor gets” or “No one can say ‘no’ to a union.”
By passing the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, Congress will not only rectify the job killing partisan actions of the NLRB, it will show this unelected board that there are limits on their undemocratic efforts to legislate by regulation.
The NLRB should be made up of members dedicated to protecting the rights of workers and employers, not partisan activists pushing a union boss agenda and pushing new costs on employees and job creators. Passing the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act is a good first step to restore balance to this agency and to workplace protection.