Senators Challenge Administration’s Big Labor Giveaway

Despite all they have gotten from the Obama administration, many union leaders have vented their frustration over Democratic lawmakers’ failure to enact the unions’ top legislative priority: the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

As a result, they are seeking to do a run around Congress by trying to get something similar to EFCA’s unpopular card check provision imposed through the regulatory process. This provision would amend the National Labor Relations Act to effectively eliminate secret ballots in organizing elections.

Last May, unions and their Democratic allies did a similar end run by amending the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which regulates labor relations for railways and airlines, to skew voting rules in unions’ favor. The change was enacted through the National Mediation Board, which oversees labor negotiations under the RLA.

Under the previous interpretation of RLA voting rules — which dated back to 1934 — a union needed to get a majority of all members in the bargaining unit — that is, the majority of all members the union sought to represent — to vote for unionization.

Under the new interpretation, unions only need to get a majority of votes cast, which can lead to a union being certified as the monopoly bargaining agent for a group of employees with only a minority of those employees having voted for the union. For example, if union is trying to organize a company that has 1,000 employees and on the day of the election only 500 show up to vote, the union would then need only 251 votes to win.

Fortunately, some Republican Senators are confronting this Big Labor power grab, through a resolution (S.J. Res. 30) sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). They are doing so by dusting off a needed law that, if used more, could help curb many government excesses: the Congressional Review Act of 1996, which allows Congress to review — and repeal — agency-promulgated rules.

The Act has only been used once, in early 2001, to repeal a Clinton-era ergonomics rule. It’s good to have it back. It would be even better still for new regulations to meet this kind of scrutiny on a routine basis.