Senators Introduce Bill to Push Back against NLRB Overreach

Reacting to the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) blatant efforts to promote organized labor’s agenda, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today introduced the Jobs Protection Act (S. 964). The Act aims to counter the NLRB’s campaign against Boeing for opening a new production line for its new 787 Dreamliner jet in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The Senators’ joint statement sums up the bill thus:

The bill would:

  • clarify that the NLRB would not be able to order an employer to relocate jobs from one location to another.
  • guarantee an employer the right to decide where to do business within the United States.
  • protect an employer’s free speech regarding the costs associated with having a unionized workforce without fear of such communication being used as evidence in an anti-union discrimination claim.

It should be outrageous that such a bill would be needed, yet it is, as the NLRB carrying water for Big Labor appears to be part of a pattern. The Board has also threatened to sue four states over amendments to their constitutions guaranteeing secret ballots in union organizing elections. As I noted recently:

Telling businesses where they may locate their facilities and states how they may amend their constitutions are, to put it mildly, highly unusual attempts to stretch federal power. But such abuse of the NLRB’s remit may be the best vehicle that Obama now has to reward his union allies — whose suport he will need in his 2012 reelection effort — following the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections.

Quite simply, this is unionization through regulation, whereby regulatory agencies circumvent Congress by “reinterpreting” the law beyond recognition.

Further, my colleague Iain Murray and I note in a recent op ed:

Boeing and the four states threatened by the NLRB have the law on their side, but it will need considerable patience to see their case through. The NLRB’s recent actions go so far in seeking to reinterpret the National Labor Relations Act that litigation could go far in the federal court system, potentially even reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress, for its part, should not wait for these cases to wind their way through the courts. It needs to rein in the NLRB before it does any more damage to the nation’s economy or to workers’ rights of free association.

This is the latest episode in the Obama administration’s pattern of politicizing the NLRB to act as an agent for organized labor, rather than an independent arbiter. Congress may still need to do more to rein in this rogue agency.

For more on labor, see here.