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Will Congress Stop NLRB?
Will Congress Stop NLRB?
March 29, 2012
Originally published in The Washington Examiner
Imagine an election in which one candidate may campaign for a year while the other is only allowed to enter the race a week before Election Day. Blindsided, the latter candidate would have no time to organize a team or respond to attacks.
That is precisely what the National Labor Relations Board is trying to accomplish, by imposing an "ambush election" rule on private-sector workplaces. Yet the board's own internal report shows that the proposed rule is a solution in search of a problem.
The new rule would give employees as little as 10 days to decide whether or not to unionize. The board justified its decision to shorten the election timeline because it claimed unreasonable delays were depriving workers of their right to a union election. NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce said the rule change is necessary to give "all employees who have petitioned for an election the right to vote in a timely manner and without the impediment of needless litigation."
But the NLRB's internal report shows that the vast majority of union elections are dealt with expediently. NLRB acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon's recent report shows that more than 90 percent of all initial elections were conducted within 56 days (eight weeks) of the petition being filed. Solomon adds that the NLRB does an "excellent" job handling union elections.
If the NLRB's top lawyer doesn't have a problem with the handling of union elections, why should the board members completely change the system?
As NLRB member Brian Hayes noted in his dissent, the new rule would rob employers of the opportunity to express their views about collective bargaining. "In truth, the 'problem' which my colleagues seek to address through these rule revisions is not that the representation election process generally takes too long," he stated. "It is that unions are not winning more elections."
The proposed rule would make it easier for unions to spin the debate in their favor, by promising workers raises and improved benefits, while giving employers hardly any opportunity to point out to their employees the drawbacks of unionization, such as mandatory dues collection and rigid work rules.
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., has introduced S.J. Res 36 to thwart the ambush election rule. The bill is a Resolution of Disapproval, brought under the Congressional Review Act, which requires an up-or-down Senate vote on a regulation, if at least 30 senators request it. Enzi's bill easily surpassed that threshold. To date, 44 senators have signed on as co-sponsors. The measure will be voted on in the coming weeks.
The rule change was never about "unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming litigation." If it were, Solomon wouldn't have reason to praise the NLRB's record of administering elections. This rule has only one objective: to make it easier for unions to organize, with or without worker support.
Under President Obama, the NLRB has consistently sought to advance Big Labor's agenda at the expense of both employers and workers. As House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., has noted, "[T]his board is not fighting for the best interests of our work force, but instead is determined to advance an activist, pro-union agenda at any cost."
Congress has an opportunity to say "enough" to opportunistic bureaucrats overreaching their authority to the detriment of American workers, by passing Enzi's Resolution of Disapproval. While more hard work by lawmakers will still be needed to rein in Obama's activist NLRB, this is a good first step.