Kline: NLRB’s Assault on Workers is Undermining Job Creation, Economic Growth
Employee testifies NLRB restricted her right to a secret ballot
WASHINGTON, D.C. | September 22, 2011
The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing entitled, “Culture of Union Favoritism: Recent Actions of the National Labor Relations Board.”
The hearing centered on a series of controversial decisions issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in late August, as well as the board’s decision to force employers to promote unionization in the workforce and advance sweeping changes to the rules that govern union elections.
“Through three decisions handed down in one afternoon, the board restricted workers’ right to a secret ballot election, undermined employers’ ability to maintain unity in the workplace, and created new barriers for those who wish to challenge union representation,” Chairman Kline said in his opening remarks. “For anyone following the Obama board, this barrage of activist decisions – however unacceptable – was not unexpected. But for workers and job creators struggling to move this country forward, it is an outrage.”
Throughout the hearing, members of the committee discussed the impact these decisions will have on workers and job-creators. One case in particular is an unprecedented setback to workers’ right to a secret ballot union election. In its Lamons Gasket decision, the board reversed a 2007 holding which provided workers 45 days to request a secret ballot election if their employer decided to voluntarily recognize union representation.
The board’s decision will force workers like Ms. Barbara Ivey to wait months and possibly years before having the opportunity to cast a secret ballot. During the hearing, Ms. Ivey was asked by Rep. Martha Roby why her right to vote was so important. To watch Ms. Ivey’s response, click on the video below:
“We live in the United States, and I’ve always believed that a vote is truly an election…A vote, at the end of the day, says, ‘yes, I want to be a member of the union,’ [or] ‘no, I do not’… I want a choice to say no, I don’t want to be in a union…I want an opportunity for everybody to say yes or no.”
Ms. Ivey also said, “In revoking the ‘DANA’ decision, the NLRB has taken away one of the last guarantees workers have of a fair and honest vote in workplace elections.”
Not only will the board’s actions make it more difficult for workers to exercise their right to a secret ballot, they also make it more difficult for employers to preserve unity in the workplace.
Speaking of the board’s controversial Specialty Healthcare decision, Curtis Mack, a former regional director for the National Labor Relations Board, testified: “This will wreak havoc on employers.” Mack added that the decision “will give unions the ability to organize multiple small collective bargaining units within one facility, Balkanizing the business and making it impossible for an employer to make hiring, promotion and transfer decisions. Costs will increase as the employer is forced to deal with multiple unions. This ability to carve out small units will adversely affect or perhaps completely eliminate opportunities for employees to advance in the workplace or learn new skills.”
While supporters of the NLRB portray its decisions as modest changes to labor policy, others have pointed to an unprecedented activist agenda that is hurting workers and job-creators.Roger King, an attorney with years of experience practicing labor law, stated “the direction of the current Board, however, is troubling.” King went on to say that “the current Board, through adjudication, rulemaking, and proposed rulemaking, has implemented one of the most active agendas pursued by any Board in the history of the Agency."
Unfortunately, it is the nation’s workforce that is paying the price for the NLRB’s activist agenda. As Chairman Kline noted at the end of his remarks, "The NLRB’s assault on American workers and job creators is undermining our nation’s ability to grow and prosper. Congress cannot stand by and allow an unelected board to wreak havoc on our workforce. We must stand up and do the job we were sent here to do."