by Fred Wszolek (in The Hill)
I recently wrote an op-ed here on The Hill’s Congress Blog which focused on actions the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may undertake in the coming weeks and months, including “try[ing] to undermine the secret ballot, a core element of workplace democracy, and provid[ing] union bosses with access to proprietary employee contact information.”
In response, John Logan, a professor and director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University wrote a highly critical and rather hyperbolic op-ed. According to Logan, “far-right obstructionism from the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute has undermined the board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights and restore a modicum of balance to our labor policy.”
In support, Logan makes the incredible claim that “the reason the NLRB has been short of numbers is that, for over two years, the GOP Congress has effectively declared war on the labor board and Republican Senators have vowed to block any of President Obama’s NLRB nominations. If they were to evaluate the president’s nominations on their merits, the board would soon return to five members and we could quickly end the uncertainty on important issues effecting workers and employers.”
To start, it is noteworthy that the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) is Tom Harkin. One needs only to conduct a cursory review of Senator Harkin’s record to find it is strongly in favor of labor organizations. In fact, his 2012 ranking by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is 100 percent. The Iowa Senator’s 2011-2012 ranking by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is also 100 percent. As chairman of the committee, Harkin could have convened hearings for Board Members Richard Griffin and Sharon Block at any point over the course of the last year. But he decided against doing so, which leads to a simple question, why?