May 2, 2012
Real Clear Policy
Last week, the U.S. Senate voted on a joint resolution of disapproval that would have undone a rule issued late last year by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The regulation changes workplace election procedures and inhibits the ability of employers to obtain fair representation and legal counsel when communicating with their employees about unionization. It also severely diminishes the amount of time for workplace elections.
The impact of the rule will be felt by all businesses in the private sector, particularly ones with fewer employees and less revenue, as they will have fewer opportunities to make their voices heard and achieve balance during union organizing campaigns. The result will clearly be that workers will deprived of information and unable to make a decision free from pressure or intimidation at the hands of union organizers.
Known as the “ambush election” rule, the Obama labor board’s regulation will now take effect on April 30th. Senators who failed to oppose the regulation sided with unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of Big Labor bosses, and punished local workers and job creators whose interests they claim to defend.
With a struggling economy and extended unemployment over 8 percent, many job creators have come to believe policies originating in Washington reflect a disconnect when factored against the tumultuous business environment they confront. This detachment was exacerbated by last week’s vote and the administration’s message that they would have vetoed the joint resolution of disapproval had it passed the U.S. Senate and House.
It’s not surprising to most that President Obama would stand with his labor board, particularly since he is relying on nearly half a billion dollars from union bosses to win re-election and tens of millions more to finance his convention in Charlotte. Numerous senators, claiming independence from the administration, followed suit and chose to stand with Big Labor over their constituents and they will ultimately need to answer for their decision.
A good example of someone who will likely come to regret his decision is former governor and current senator Joe Manchin. Over the weekend, Manchin published an op-ed in The Charleston Gazette titled, “Sen. Joe Manchin: Born A W.Va. Democrat, Will Always Be A W.Va. Democrat.” In his article, Manchin writes, “All my life, I’ve been proud to say that I’m a West Virginia Democrat. I am not a Washington Democrat. Being a West Virginia Democrat means that I’m a commonsense, responsible Democrat — and I always will be.”
Well, it certainly appears Manchin is playing one role in Charleston and another in the nation’s capital. While in West Virginia, Manchin rails against overreaches by the federal government, particularly its executive agencies, yet in Washington, he votes to allow them to eliminate worker rights and forcibly unionize Mountain State employees. Manchin will have a tough time sustaining that argument when his vote on S.J. Res. 36 is brought to the fore.
Next is Senator Claire McCaskill. In advance of the vote on “ambush elections,” the Coalition to Protect Missouri Jobs received responses to its questionnaire from many of her election opponents, including Representative Todd Akin, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and businessman John Brunner, all of whom opposed the NLRB’s gross overreaches including ambush elections, but also the formation or micro-unions and handing over private employee contact information to union organizers. While McCaskill has refused to answer questions regarding her stances, she sent a clear message to Show Me State employers that she sides with union bosses over them with her vote on S.J. Res. 36. And it is not all that surprising considering McCaskill has accepted $581,250 from Big Labor since 2007. Once again, she will have difficulty articulating how she supports local businesses going forward.
Lastly, Senator Jon Tester has questions to answer. Tester rode a wave of anti-incumbency to office in 2006, but appears to have quickly learned the ways of Washington. With an easy smile and rural, down-home background, Tester thinks Montanans will be fooled and ignore his voting record. Well, the Treasure State’s junior senator is sorely mistaken if he thinks Montanans are going to overlook his support for job-killing regulations. Tester has failed to return the Coalition to Protect Montana Jobs’ questionnaire in spite of the fact his likely opponent, Representative Denny Rehberg, has, and answered by opposing the burdensome and unnecessary mandates undertaken by Obama’s labor board. Like McCaskill, Tester has not been shy in accepting big checks from union bosses totaling $439,100 since 2007.
In the end, these senators and many of their colleagues have some explaining to do about how their anti-jobs vote on S.J. Res. 36 is consistent with an election centered on economic growth.
Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).