After 80 Years, Labor Law Needs Reform

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) recently penned an op-ed that celebrates the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act and praises the work of the National Labor Relations Board, which is charged with enforcing the Act. In same piece, she sharply criticizes attempts to reform the Act and Board.

In general, Sen. Murray asserts that workers’ rights need to be protected and union representation/collective bargaining equals higher worker wages.

Unfortunately, the NLRB as currently constructed is not in a position to do that, with a majority appointees who are only concerned with protecting union rights, not workers. Almost weekly, the NLRB is looking to overturn longstanding precedent so that union representation is foisted on workers whether they like it or not.

In the 80 years the NLRA has been in place, and especially under the Obama administration, it has become clear the Act and the Board’s action’s sole purpose is to grant labor unions special privileges which are unavailable to any other private organization or individual.

Let’s tackle Sen. Murray’s main talking points.

Worker rights need to be protected. No one would disagree with this. But is the NLRB the best candidate for the job? I would argue no.

The NLRB is more concerned with union privilege than worker rights. For instance, the NLRB has gone to great effort to make it harder for workers to get rid of an unwanted union, even when a majority of workers want the union gone. It has implemented ambush elections that give workers little time to contemplate whether or not union representation would actually improve their pay and working conditions, in addition to jeopardizing workers’ private information. The Board is also considering undermining right-to-work laws, which provide workers choice in employment.

Next, Sen. Murray claims that collective bargaining is key to raising worker wages and more workers should be unionized. Well, the NLRB has done everything it can to issue decisions and implement rules that tilt the playing field in favor of unions so that more workers have union representation foisted upon them. However, unionization does not equal higher wages. Recent research shows that unionization means a 15 percent wage loss for workers.

Last, Sen. Murray attacks efforts to rein in the Board. Yet, when a federal agency charged with acting as a neutral body that is supposed to represent the public in labor disputes, reform is necessary. Even a Court has accused the NLRB for acting as the litigation arm of Big Labor.