Groundhog Day at the NLRB

Groundhog Day has come and gone, and we received the grim news that this spectacularly awful winter will be sticking around a lot longer.  Sadly, it’s also been Groundhog Day at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where they are once again attempting to rig the rules surrounding union elections to make it easier for Big Labor to capture more workplaces and force more workers into collective bargaining units.

On Wednesday, the Obama labor board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to bring back the “ambush” election rules they tried to impose on American workers just a few years ago.  This rule change would severely alter the way union organizing elections are held, and it’s a radical change indeed.

ADVERTISEMENT
That leads to various questions including, are these changes even necessary?  The facts suggest they are not.  For instance, 94 percent of workplace elections take place within 56 days.  And how does labor fare?  They win 64 percent of them with the median time for all elections being 38 days.  On occasion, there are delays, often resulting from disagreements about the size of the bargaining unit or which employees are eligible to participate in the voting.  But once the NLRB settles any disagreements, a vote is promptly scheduled.  The actions by the Obama Board seek to mandate a solution where no problem currently exists.

Under the new rules proposed by this staunchly pro-Big Labor board, an election would be held less than two weeks after the union petitions for one.  Strangely, disagreements about who is eligible to vote would be settled after the election, rather than before.  Yes, in the curiouser and curiouser world of the NLRB, much as in Alice and Wonderland, we have the verdict first, then the trial.

So what’s the rush?  Elections held under the current process give employers adequate time to tell their side of the story to employees ensuring they hear all the information and are well informed.  It also allows an employer time to learn about the union, what promises have been made to employees, and determine whether counsel should be hired to address their rights and obligations prior to an election.  Labor organizers can continue to quietly plot their organizing drive for months or even years, which will not stop, but under the new rule, employers will be limited to as few as ten days to make their case.  Workers will be deprived of the opportunity to learn all they can about an extremely important decision in their professional lives, which is exactly what Big Labor wants to happen.

There are other provisions of the rule that should make every employee take notice.  In this era of disappearing privacy and concerns about identity theft, we all take what happens to our personal information very seriously.  This proposed rule dramatically expands the amount of personal information about employees that employers will be forced to turn over to labor organizers.  If this rule goes into effect, business owners will be required to share the home and email addresses, as well as telephone numbers of every worker with paid union organizers who can do with it whatever they desire.

History proves labor organizers are known to use violence and intimidation to get their way.  In fact, shockingly, courts have ruled that the use of coercion and harassment are actually legal in a union organizing drive in a number of states.  So all of us should be justifiably worried that labor organizers might be paying us a visit at our homes, calling us or even sending us electronic communication to ensure we’ll be supporting their union.  Clearly, a more reasonable reform would give employees, not unions, control of their own personal information and allow them to decide for themselves what – if anything – is provided to labor organizers.

Ambush elections are bad news for American workers, but music to the ears of Big Labor bosses.  Under the current – more balanced – rules, union bosses are representing a steadily shrinking share of the workforce not because the rules are unfair, but because workers are making an informed decision and opting not to join a collective bargaining unit.  The NLRB now rides to the rescue by tilting the playing field grossly in favor of labor bosses by silencing employers and making workers sitting ducks for union intimidation campaigns. 

It’s all in a day’s work for the pro-Big Labor NLRB.  Once again, they demonstrate that there’s virtually no length to which they won’t go to thank union bosses for the millions in political spending that put President Obama in office.

Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).