'Cut the pious baloney' about the NLRB

Never mind that George W. Bush made 6 recess appointments to the NLRB and the only reason that Obama needed to make recess appointments is that
Senate Republicans had vowed to block his nominees – “inoperable is progress” said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) – and from January 3 the board lacked a quorum. In 2010, the Supreme Court decided that a two-member board could not exercise the authority of the full five-member board.

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Next, according to a January 11 memo from the Education and Workforce Committee, we can expect seven deadly sins -- each accusation demonstrably
false, many downright ridiculous -- from “Obama’s left-leaning NLRB” in 2012:

•       Unleash havoc in America’s workplaces

Republicans claim that the NLRB’s “micro-units” decision in specialty healthcare gives “Big Labor the green light to gerrymander the workplace.” In reality, the decision is based on decades of legal precedents and reverses a controversial decision of the Bush I NLRB.

•       Expand pressure on businesses

More use of “coercive tactics” by labor officials on neutral employers? Unions are now so hamstrung concerning what they can and cannot do, especially with regard to employers not directly involved in disputes, that some support getting rid of the NLRA.

•       Restrict access to secret ballot elections

In Lamons Gasket, the NLRB reversed a 2007 Bush NLRB decision, which, overturning 40 years of precedent, had severely limited voluntary agreements between employers and unions. This hardly amounts to restricting access to elections.

•       Undermine employer free wpeech and worker free choice

In December the board approved a new rule – a much scaled-down version of its original proposal – streamlining the union certification process to cut down on unnecessary pre-election litigation. As Republicans well understand, it will strengthen worker free choice and says nothing about restricting employer free speech.

•       Propose new rules to promote unionization

The NLRB has issued a new rule requiring employers to post a simple 11 by 17 inch poster explaining employees’ rights under the law.  Most others labor and employment statutes -- including the ADA, FMLA, and OSHA – require similar notice posting. The GOP is now so extreme that it opposes informing employees of their rights under federal labor law.

•       Dictate where job creators can locate work

This, of course, refers to the NLRB’s complaint against Boeing, but contrary to the “pious baloney” being spoken by Mitt Romney in South Carolina, it was never about right-to-work vs. non-right-to-work, and the NLRB never attempted to tell a private business where it could and could not locate. The board was simply trying to enforce the law.

•       Pick winners and losers

When the Machinists and Boeing reached an agreement, Republicans tried to spin the positive outcome as further evidence of NLRB malfeasance. The
reason the NLRB had weighed in, they argued, was to strengthen the union’s hand in bargaining. Never mind that Boeing has gotten its non-union facility in South Carolina and that the most desirable outcome is always voluntary settlements that benefit both parties.

The GOP Committee diatribe against the NLRB is nothing more than a manifesto for the 1%, “vulture capitalists,” and corporate raiders who, like Mitt Romney, have systemically destroyed hundreds of thousands of well-paying American jobs, while making hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves in the process.

When the GOP speaks on labor rights, pious baloney trumps prosaic reality every time. For the NLRB, it looks like 2012 will be another wild ride,
with lots more baloney to come.

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