This year has been a very active one in spite of the fact the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA) was not introduced in this session of Congress, even though it had been in previous ones. This – in and of itself – sends a strong message about how Big Labor and their agenda has lost favor with the American people and their representatives in Washington, D.C.
And while Congress did not advance the job-killing legislation that would eliminate the secret ballot for workers and mandate businesses adhere to contract terms drafted by government bureaucrats, the executive branch was incredibly active in advancing the interests of union bosses through a little-known, supposed “independent” agency named the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). And the NLRB was not alone, as other agencies such as the National Mediation Board (NMB) advanced policies that hurt employees and employers.
This was a coordinated effort on the part of President Obama and labor bosses to use administrative agencies to enact policies forcibly unionizing American workers. It was publicly telegraphed as early as February 2010 by an official with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Stewart Acuff, director of organizing of the AFL-CIO said, “It [sic] we aren’t able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action…” 
And with that, Obama’s labor board began to radically change the law governing the relationship between workers and small businesses with unions in the private sector.
The year started with President Obama re-nominating labor radical and former AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) lawyer Craig Becker to the NLRB. Becker was well known to Obama as he served as an attorney in the president’s transition. 
Next, in spite of the largest debt in American history, Obama submitted a budget to the Congress that included unwarranted funding increases for his labor boards. The NLRB’s inspector general even issued a report last year that the agency was overspending and that it should consolidate some of its regional offices. 
Then, in late March, the NLRB ruled the employees of lessees had a right of access to the private property of the owner to organize workers and distribute materials to the general public without regard to whether other less-intrusive means were available. That decision threatens an increase in workplace disruptions, which will result in lost jobs and business opportunities.
This was followed in April with the NLRB’s acting general counsel issuing a stunning complaint against the Boeing Company. The complaint alleged that Boeing’s opening of a second production line in the right-to-work state of South Carolina was a retaliatory “transfer” of unit work from Washington State. 
The complaint received massive media coverage for eight months until the charge was voluntarily withdrawn by the union, the International Association of Machinists (IAM). The agency immediately dismissed its complaint to escape circuit court review and leave in place a precedent that will chill business investment in the United States.
The acting general counsel also sued two states that sought to protect the secret ballot by adopting constitutional amendments.  While these amendments were fully consistent with Federal law, they were inconsistent with the views of the NLRB’s political appointees who favor an unrestricted card check regime.
In June, the NLRB proposed new rules to close the window of time for workplace elections in favor of “quickie” or “ambush” elections. The obvious intent was to limit the ability of employers to participate in a board election and express their views on unionization. The predominate story, perhaps the only story, employees would hear before they voted, would be the union story. The proposal resulted in the agency receiving more than 65,000  comments from workers and businesses opposing the policy as both inconsistent with the First Amendment and a job killer. 
And before the summer ended, Obama’s labor board issued a series of rulings that punished workers and employers:
- A requirement that businesses post a partisan one-sided notice of employee rights that never mentions, for example, the right of workers to organize against a union or to decertify a union they no longer want to represent them;
- Radically altering how collective bargaining units are defined in every industry by authorizing unions to petition to represent tiny mini or “micro-units” of employees, essentially any two or more employees doing the same job in the same location, which threatens to balkanize the workplace, spread discord, and dramatically increase an employer’s labor relations costs due to the requirement to manage negotiations and bargaining with multiple collective bargaining units.
- Stripping workers of their right to challenge their employer’s recognition of a union through the unreliable card check process; and finally,
- Barring employee challenges to incumbent unions when there is a change in ownership, such as during a Chapter 11 bankruptcy that may have been caused by union overreach.
For its part, the Congress worked to address issues with the NLRB on multiple fronts by investigating Obama’s labor board, conducting oversight of its actions and passing legislation seeking to undo its undemocratic, anti-worker and anti-business job-killing rulings.
In September, the U.S. House passed the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act, in response to the complaint issued by the NLRB against Boeing.  The legislation preserves the NLRB’s vast remedial authority, but removes any authority it may have to dictate to an employer where and how it may do its business.
Next, in November, the House again acted to rein in the out-of-control agency by passing the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, which protects workers and employers against any board rule instituting “ambush” elections and reverses the labor board’s economically damaging mini-bargaining unit decision. 
Just last week, as a New Year’s salvo, the two Democrats on the labor board issued what they purport to be a final “quickie” or “ambush” election rule. The rule, pared back somewhat from what had been proposed, was issued without full board deliberation and the participation of the NLRB’s lone Republican, Brian Hayes.
The legally suspect new rule effectively limits employer free speech by cutting the time for NLRB elections at least in half. It accomplishes this result by stacking the deck against employers, pushing board review of pre-election issues including the appropriateness of a bargaining unit and voter qualification until after the election, all issues that can determine whether an election should take place. 
As the year concludes, President Obama nominated two Democrats to the NLRB who will likely continue the destructive and anti-business agenda that has been pursued by the current slate of unelected bureaucrats. One, Richard Griffin, will be the second nominee in history coming directly from a labor union – with Craig Becker as the first – to be nominated for a full board term.
As a result of these developments and others, Big Labor’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest levels in history with just over half of all Americans having a favorable opinion of unions  and most believing they will become weaker than they are today. 
Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the percentage of American workers in unions slipped to the lowest rate in more than 70 years.  All this in spite of the unprecedented campaign executed by the Obama Administration on behalf of a special interest that spent nearly half billion dollars in 2008 to put it in power . 
So now, with 2011 coming to an end, Obama has shown himself to be a president more interested in trying to reward Big Labor than protecting workers and creating jobs. His agency’s giveaways to union bosses undermine his message on the economy and make his administration the most partisan pro-labor, anti-business administration in American history.
In closing, it is important to consider how things have progressed in a very short period of time. Two Congresses ago, EFCA was co-sponsored by Democrats in large numbers with the support of quite a few Republicans. Then, in the last Congress, it was co-sponsored by fewer Democrats and retained little Republican support. After two years of trench warfare on the issue, the bill wasn’t introduced at all in the current Congress.
In the court of public opinion, labor bosses have already lost, and in a few years, we might look back at NRLB rulings on matters such as “ambush” elections and Specialty Healthcare as the death rattle of Big Labor’s influence. And we’ll be proud for helping hasten that day.
The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace. To learn more, please visit: http://www.workforcefairness.com.