The Washington Examiner
By Heather Greenaway
Over the past several decades, organized labor has been experiencing a crisis as membership rolls continue to decline to record lows. In 2014, the Labor Department reported that union membership fell again to 11.1 percent of workers, down from 11.3 percent the previous year. Today, it stands barely over six percent in the private sector, while government workers largely contributing to the ranks of union members
The fall in the unionization rate can be assigned to various factors, including a leeriness among workers to join collective bargaining units, give away some of their hard-earned dollars and become exposed to the underhanded tactics employed by union bosses. The unwillingness of workers to join labor unions was on display just this month as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) was forced to cancel a unionizing vote at Boeing’s South Carolina production facility due to a lack of support.
This cancellation, which garnered national attention, was the culmination of several tense days in which IAM organizers used intimidation tactics against Boeing workers, including showing up at employees’ homes.
With labor organizers becoming more and more desperate similar events are expected to become even more commonplace. And the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is doing everything possible to pave the way for the harassment and bullying of even more workers.
On April 14, the NLRB’s “ambush” election ruling went into effect, giving union bosses unprecedented tools to pressure and coerce employees. The new rule will require business owners to hand over their employees’ phone numbers and email addresses, in addition to all of the previous information already required for disclosure, as soon as a union election petition has been filed.
The new rule also drastically shortens the window in which an election can be held — to as few as 11 days, down from an average of 38. This is a significant change. According to the NLRB’s own data from 2004 to 2014, union organizers were victorious 60 percent of the time when an election took place within 36 and 42 days. That percentage jumped to 86 percent when an election was held in under 21 days.
The “ambush” rule is par for the course for the Obama administration, which has worked hard to save unions from irrelevance. NLRB rulings in case after case have consistently provided union bosses new opportunities to go after employees and employers in an effort to bolster their declining membership. When Congress advanced a bipartisan bill earlier this year to reverse the “ambush” election decision, President Obama — on whose behalf union bosses had promised to spend $1 billion in the 2012 election — vetoed the bill. It was one of only four vetoes he has cast in more than six years on the job.
While pro-union decisions by the Obama Labor Board are certainly detrimental to major job creators such as Boeing, they are even more destructive to small business owners who don’t have the luxury of in-house lawyers to administer to shortened election timelines or the resources to educate employees about the pros and cons of forming a union. Today, these employers continue to fight hard to recover from the Great Recession in what is supposedly the sixth year of an economic recovery.
With the Obama administration unwilling to stand up for workers and small businesses, Congress must carry the fight by sending more legislation to upend these rules. Our representatives in Washington should consider drastically altering the NLRB’s budget, in order to disable it from doing any more harm.