NLRB Tempers Quickie Elections, Not Overreach

Yesterday, National Labor Relations Board Chairman Mark Pearce issued a statement describing the proposed rule changes to the union election process. The changes were expedited to guarantee approval before Board member Craig Becker’s term expires. Then the NLRB will consist of only two members, eliminating its rulemaking power.

Fortunately, the expedited proposal is a watered-down version of “quickie elections.” The provision that would have sped up the election process to 7-10 days after a petition for union representation was removed. Although the rule change is less egregious than originally anticipated, Chairman Pearce hopes to impose the original changes to union election procedures in the future — including speeding up elections to 7-10 days, allowing union’s access to employer’s facilities and workers contact information.

Today, the NLRB union election amendments are up for a vote that in effect is final. The only opposition to the pro-union policy, lone conservative Board member Brain Hayes, must resign. Seeing how Hayes’ resignation is unlikely before 2:30 today, it is important to understand the obstacles of the rule changes.

Employers and workers, don’t be fooled. Although the union election procedure was not significantly shortened, the new policy still diminishes workplace rights. Placing Big Labor rights above all others is a continuing trend under the Obama administration.

The proposed rule will prohibit employers from making appeals that would stall union elections, even if the grievance is warranted. The adverse effects from this amendment are twofold.

First, the proposal gives incentive to appease Big Labor. As Chairman Pearce stated, “The amendments I propose would not affect those agreed-to elections.” Pretty much the rule encourages employers to sign neutrality agreements. A neutrality agreement is a contract between an employer and union where the employer supports the union’s organizing effort. The Obama administration’s pro-union stance makes appeasement attractive for employers. It is far easier under current labor law to fold to Big Labor than to withstand corporate campaigns, protests, and picketing. The NLRB is promoting neutrality agreements that enable Big Labor coercion and do away with workers’ freedom to choose.

Second, giving Big Labor a foothold into workers’ checkbooks is just wrong. Barring appeals that stall union elections will increase union corruption. Big Labor’s impunity permits fraudulent union representation. Union representation won legally or not empowers unions to start collecting dues. The government appeal process can be lengthy. During the lengthy appeals process Big Labor will sit back collecting union dues from unprotected workers.

The Obama administration, specifically the NLRB policies, has been rightly criticized by Republicans in Congress. Although the GOP is correct in attacking the NLRBs pro-union bias, it is important to remember why federal agencies have such great power. Both Republicans and Democrats over the years were complicit in ceding power to federal agencies, either to increase government or to decrease their accountability. The expansion of federal regulatory state is what needs to be reined in, not just the NLRB.

The NLRBs proposed changes to union elections exemplifies the need for Congress to limit federal agencies power. The NLRB today can take a vote and, upon approval, promulgate the regulation, no matter how detrimental it would be to workplace rights. On the other hand, Rep. John Kline’s bill, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, that combats the NLRBs recent rulemakings will be voted on today. Even if Rep. Kline’s bill passes, it will have no effect on labor law. Balance needs to be restored to government. Until federal agency power is controlled, Congress will continue to scratch its head while unelected bureaucrats make the rules.