WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 11, 2012 -
This week, President Obama’s controversial recess appointments took their seats at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). A great deal of legal uncertainty is attached to these appointments and any future action the new board may take.
While some question the constitutional implications of these recess appointments, many worry how the new board will affect the workplace. If history serves as a guide, American workers and employers have every reason to be alarmed.
Since 2009, the Obama labor board has managed to:
Unleash Havoc in America’s Workplaces
Contrary to congressional guidance, the Obama board’s decision in Specialty Healthcare gave Big Labor the green light to gerrymander the workplace for their own gain. The NLRB’s radical departure from decades of precedent makes it virtually impossible for anyone to challenge the group of employees handpicked by the union. As a result, employers may be constantly engaged in costly labor disputes and workers may have less freedom to pursue new opportunities in the workplace.
Expand Pressure on Businesses
If you’re an employer with no involvement in a labor dispute and think you’re safe from union intimidation – think again. The Obama board has expanded the use of coercive tactics by union officials against “neutral” employers. In one notorious case, Big Labor’s allies on the board even approved the use of the infamous inflatable rat during boycotts of neutral employers. At a time when many small business owners are struggling, union pressure is now one more thing they have to worry about.
Restrict Access to Secret Ballot Elections
Americans recognize the secret ballot is indispensable to free and fair elections, so it’s impossible to understand why the NLRB took steps to restrict workers’ ability to exercise this critical right. Workers previously had 45 days to request a secret ballot election in the event their employer voluntarily recognized union representation. The Obama board recently took the nation’s workforce in a more draconian direction, forcing workers to wait up to four years before casting a secret ballot.
Undermine Employer Free Speech and Worker Free Choice
Time and information is absolutely essential to making an educated decision in an election. Remarkably, that too is under assault by the Obama board. In June, the board proposed sweeping changes to the rules governing union elections. Union elections could be held in as little as 10 days, undermining an employer’s right to speak to his or her employees and crippling a worker’s ability to make an informed decision.
Propose New Rules to Promote Unionization
The NLRB has not been shy about ignoring the limits of its authority in order to advance a culture of union favoritism. That was certainly the case in late August when the board finalized a new rule that requires nearly every private employer post in the workplace a vague and biased notice of employee “rights.” What the poster really represents is a marketing campaign by Big Labor mandated by its allies at the NLRB, even though the board does not have the authority to require general notice postings in the workplace.
Dictate Where Job Creators Can Locate Work
Choosing where to set up shop and hire workers is a fundamental business decision. Bureaucrats at the NLRB believe they should have a say in that decision. In April of 2011, the NLRB filed a complaint against The Boeing Company for building an assembly line in South Carolina. The NLRB tried to force Boeing to move the work to Washington State. The complaint threatened thousands of jobs in South Carolina and continues to have a chilling effect on employers today.
Pick Winners and Losers
As was just noted, the NLRB is already trying to dictate the location of American businesses. The board also seems to believe it can use its power to aid friends in the middle of a labor dispute. Just days after the union reached a deal on a new contract with Boeing executives, the NLRB suddenly dropped its legal complaint. Job creators now must fear they too will have to compete against NLRB bureaucrats in the midst of their own labor negotiations.
Only time will tell whether the new board will continue to advance this job destroying agenda and put the whims of Big Labor over the best interests of workers and employers. Meanwhile, House Republicans remain committed to conducting aggressive oversight of the NLRB and holding the board accountable to the American people.
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