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JFK Opposed Ambush Union Elections
Congress should, too

Members of Congress have an important opportunity to protect fundamental rights enjoyed by America’s workers and job creators. That’s the crux of a resolution the House is set to vote on later today that would block a radical rewrite of long-standing policies governing union elections.

Under a scheme concocted by President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, a union election could occur in as little as 11 days. The board accomplishes this amazing feat of speed by stifling the right of employers to speak to employees and denying workers a fair opportunity to make an informed decision.

The board’s new rules stand in stark contrast to the fair election process workers, employers, and unions now know (the current median time for an election is only 38 days). That is precisely what members of Congress – both Republican and Democrat – have sought to ensure.

Speaking about union elections more than 55 years ago, then-Senator John F. Kennedy declared:

There should be at least a 30 day interval between the request for an election and the holding of the election ... in which both parties can present their viewpoints. The 30-day waiting period is an additional safeguard against rushing employees into an election where they are unfamiliar with the issues.

Unfortunately, the board’s ambush election rule is worse than even President Kennedy could have contemplated. Not only would it rush workers into a decision before they’ve discussed this personal matter with friends, family members, and coworkers, it also jeopardizes the privacy and safety of workers and their families.

Union intimidation and coercion is real. Jennifer Parrish recently described her experience with a labor organizer:

In 2006, a stranger came to her home asking for her to sign a union authorization card. She repeatedly declined to sign at which point the gentleman grew angry. His demands became louder and more insistent. To get him to leave, she agreed to sign.

Unions have also misused employee information

Patricia Pelletier … circulated a petition to decertify her union. She and her coworkers ultimately voted to decertify the union. Union operatives responded by allegedly forging Pelletier’s signature on numerous magazine subscriptions and consumer product solicitations … Not only was Pelletier forced to spend several hours each day canceling individual subscriptions, she was also billed for thousands of dollars by unwitting magazine companies, jeopardizing her credit rating.

and exposed workers to greater risk of identity theft …

33 AT&T employees at the company’s Burlington, North Carolina, facility resigned from their union and ceased paying union dues. In apparent retaliation, the union posted the 33 AT&T employees’ names and social security numbers on a publicly accessible bulletin board located in a hallway close to the building entrance stating the employees had resigned from the union and ceased paying dues.

Rather than help prevent these types of egregious activities, the board’s ambush election rule would actually help facilitate more harassment and place more workers in harm’s way.

Congress should not allow an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats to threaten the rights and privacy of hard-working Americans. The resolution (H. J. Res. 29/S. J. Res. 8), sponsored by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), invokes Congress’s authority under the Congressional Review Act to block the NLRB’s ambush election rule.

Members of Congress can either demand a fair union election process that protects the rights of workers, employers, and unions, or it can condone a regulatory scheme that tramples on those rights. The choice would have been clear to President Kennedy. It should be clear to Congress as well.

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