On September 28, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced The Protecting American Jobs Act, S. 2084, which would relieve the National Labor Relations Board of its power to prosecute and adjudicate labor disputes.
The NLRB no longer operates as Congress intended—as neutral arbiter that represents the public interest in labor disputes. Under the Obama administration, the Board has overturned a number of longstanding precedents that arbitrarily benefit labor unions at the expense of worker choice and the economy.
By removing the NLRB’s adjudicatory power, private-sector labor law would no longer flip-flop on the whim of political appointees and which political party holds the executive office. This would bring increased certainty to labor relations, a benefit to all parties involved—workers, unions, and business.
As Sen. Lee said in a statement, “For far too long, the NLRB has acted as judge, jury and executioner for labor disputes in this country… The havoc they have wrought by upsetting decades of established labor law has cost countless jobs.”
For example, in a case involving Browning-Ferris Industries, the Board overturned 30 year precedent that determined when a company may be held liable for labor violations committed by another employer with which they contract. This decision has far-reaching implications that will disrupt many kinds of business arrangements—contractors, franchises, and all types of contingent work—that are responsible for creating jobs. At a time when millions of individuals are looking for work, it is especially inappropriate to impede the growth of small businesses that create 60 percent of all new jobs.
Workers would have greater freedom in selecting their representation with the NLRB stripped of its power. The Board has made removing an unwanted union an extremely arduous process. As I pointed out on RealClearPolicy.com:
In Alabama, it took workers at Hamilton NTN-Bower plant five votes over a two-year period to decertify the United Auto Workers as their monopoly bargaining representative. The reason for so many votes? The NLRB considered the previous attempts invalid after the UAW disputed the results. A majority of workers voted to remove the UAW in four of the five elections. In the only election that the UAW won, 148 votes were cast while there were only 140 eligible voters.
In a blatantly pro-union decision in August, the Board overturned a 50-year precedent that ruled a housing and nursing center for the elderly must continue to deduct dues from workers’ paychecks, even though the collective bargaining agreement that those dues supported had expired.
These are just a few of many decisions where the NLRB has overturned longstanding precedent that serves no other purpose than to unfairly advantage unions. Private-sector labor law, like any other kind of law, should not swing like a pendulum depending on which political party is in power.