Right-wing obstructionism has undermined NLRB's efforts to protect workers

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As Wszolek states, the board has introduced a new rule, supported by a clear majority of its members, to eliminate unnecessary litigation and deliberate delay before employees get to vote in union certification elections. Academic research demonstrates that employers often use delay as a strategy to undermine employees’ free choice. One large “union avoidance” law firm advises employers that “time is on your side” when it comes to NLRB elections – the longer employers delay an election, the longer that employees are subjected to an aggressive anti-union campaign and the less likely that they will vote for unionization.

Instead of permitting this fair and commonsense change to take effect, however, the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations have adopted every
conceivable political and legal maneuver to scuttle the new rule. As a result, American workers are still being denied the opportunity for a timely vote. The GOP and its anti-union allies support only one kind of workplace election – one dominated by employers and their consultants, in which employees are subjected to months of anti-union “captive audience meetings,” threats of dismissals, warnings that the company may have to close or relocate if the employees choose unionization and so on.  These are sham elections marred by endless employer intimidation, not timely, free and fair elections worthy of an advanced democratic nation.

Wszolek also objects to a potential NLRB rule requiring that employers turn over accurate employee contact information after it has accepted a petition for a union certification election. He has no objection to hostile employers using their unilateral control of the workplace to subjected employees to aggressive anti-union propaganda, hire specialists in anti-union techniques, or indoctrinate new employees against the union from the moment they are first hired, as happens at virulently anti-union corporations such as Walmart. But he does not want employees to be able to hear from groups or fellow employees offering them an independent voice, improved wages and benefits, and respect at the workplace.

The GOP and the Workplace Fairness Institute have also vigorously opposed the NLRB’s efforts to require employers to post notices informing employees of their legal rights. Republicans and their ultra-conservative allies are now so extreme on the issue of unions and collective bargaining that they do not even want workers to know about their rights under federal law for fear that they might actually try to exercise those rights.

Wszolek criticizes the NLRB for making decisions with anything less than a full complement of five members. He fails to mention, however, that the reason the NLRB has been short of numbers is that, for over two years, the GOP Congress has effectively declared war on the labor board and Republican Senators have vowed to block any of President Obama’s NLRB nominations. If they were to evaluate the President’s nominations on their merits, the board would soon return to five members and we could quickly end the uncertainty on important issues effecting workers and employers.

The only kind of “workplace democracy” supported by the GOP Congress and the Workplace Fairness Institute is one that denies an independent voice
to American workers and leads to further misery in job insecurity, wages and working conditions.

The NLRB must do everything it can to protect the rights of American workers. It must pursue changes to eliminate unjustified delay in workplace elections; to enable employees to learn about their federally protected workplace rights; and to ensure that employees get to hear more than just the voice of anti-union employers and their consultants.

The right-wing agenda to undermine workplace democracy has flourished for too long in the United States – with disastrous consequences for American
workers. It is time for the NLRB to stand up to that destructive agenda.

Logan is professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University.