by Fred Wszolek
April 23, 2012
Recently, Senator John Thune published an op-ed on the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ambush election rule and efforts in Congress to undo the regulation in advance of it taking effect on April 30th. This week, the U.S. Senate will vote on S.J. Res. 36, a joint resolution of disapproval, which under the Congressional Review Act has the weight of law once passed by a simple majority in both houses of Congress and signed by the president.
The op-ed elicited a response by John Logan, a professor at San Francisco University and regular author of op-eds in The Hill. Sufficed to say, Logan disagreed with Thune’s arguments, largely employing rhetorical points as opposed to fact-based responses as there was little to question concerning the merits of the initial op-ed.
For instance, Logan argues, “Thune begins with a standard, but unsubstantiated, GOP argument on the economic crisis: employers are reluctant to create jobs because of ‘regulatory uncertainty.’ In reality, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that regulations are costing jobs, but considerable evidence that a lack of regulation of financial markets caused the current crisis.” In fact, a United States Chamber of Commerce study last year showed that state labor regulations are costing the U.S. “more than 700,000 jobs” and that “paring back regulations that exceed federal standards would help spur 50,000 new businesses each year.” Another report done by the Small Business Administration says small businesses face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee. With all due respect to Logan, I am not certain as a college professor he has a lot of credibility arguing about the challenges employers confront when taking risks and creating jobs in the marketplace.
Next, Logan argues against the politicization of the NLRB writing, “In reality, President Eisenhower first politicized appointments to the labor board in the 1950s, and NLRB politicization reached its apex in the 1980s, when President Reagan appointed to the board Republican members who were hostile to the purpose of the law they were charged with enforcing.”
This argument fails to take into account that even former Board members, including those who have been nominated by and served in Democratic administrations have rebuked the current NLRB for its actions. Bill Gould, NLRB Chairman during Bill Clinton’s Administration, spoke out against the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing saying, “[t]he Boeing case is unprecedented … The general counsel is trying to equate an employer’s concern with strikes that disrupt production and make it difficult to make deadlines – he’s trying to equate that with hostility toward trade unionism. I don’t think that makes sense.”
Logan proceeds to argue that ambush elections will not surprise employers nor deny them the chance to inform employees during a workplace organizing campaign. Here is where Logan’s argument completely falls apart. The NLRB’s own data disproves the need for these reckless, expedited elections. In its annual report, the board shows union elections typically only take 38 days, below the agency’s goal of 42. Going further, 92 percent of workplace elections take less than 56 days. This leads one to ask, what is the need for the rule to begin with?
Lastly, Logan argues against the benefit of the ambush election rule to union bosses, but once again, his opinion butts up against reality. In fact, it was Big Labor who stated they expected “payback” for supporting President Obama in the 2008 election and it was union bosses who argued they would use “administrative action” to secure elements of the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act if the legislative branch failed to pass the bill, which is what occurred when both Republicans and Democrats opposed it.
Facts can sometimes be inconvenient things, particularly when an argument is largely devoid of them. The truth is that labor’s finances are in deep trouble, which was demonstrated recently in a Credit Suisse report showing union pension programs were nearly $370 billion dollars in the red. Big Labor bosses are desperate to augment the number of union members and since so few people are freely choosing to join organized labor in private sector workplaces, they are intent on using their friends in government to force workers into unions, whether they want to join or not.
This is the whole purpose of the ambush election rule and the reason Congress is working to put a stop to it. In retrospect, Logan’s op-ed demonstrates why any Member of Congress who considers themselves a friend of employees and employers will take a stand in their favor and reject a rule put in place by unelected bureaucrats that rushes workers into making uninformed decisions on an issue critically important to their livelihoods and makes a mockery of secret ballot elections.
Business owners are struggling to survive during a very challenging economic time period and requiring them to waste precious resources to make a fair case against paid and professional union organizers will not help our economy recover or create jobs. And you don’t need a Ph.D. to figure that out.