'Ambush' union elections erode workers' rights

'Ambush' union elections erode workers' rights
© Getty Images

Eight years under the Obama administration was a boon for union bosses and the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) anti-worker agenda. The so-called independent agency reached a series of conclusions that diminished employee rights and handed them over to "Big Labor."  

Thankfully, Representatives Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) successfully championed an amendment to the recent omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, that would unravel one of the board’s most misguided policies: the “ambush election” rule. 

ADVERTISEMENT

By blocking any funds from being used to enforce the rule, their amendment would roll back the Obama-era job-killing policy and restore workers’ right to cast informed votes on their own unionization. 

 

While there were many decisions reached by Obama’s NLRB that hurt employees and employers alike, few overstepped the agency’s boundaries and stripped employees of their rights to the degree of the ambush election ruling. 

By shortening the timeframe for labor elections to a mere 11 days, the decision has allowed organizers to quietly garner support for unionization, then ambush workers with elections shortly thereafter.

With such little time to prepare, employees have been unable to obtain and review thoughtful information about the real-life consequences of forming a collective bargaining unit and the implications it could have on their lives. 

Unionization is a serious decision with potentially devastating consequences, and employees deserve to be fully informed of the benefits and consequences before casting such a monumental vote. The ambush election decision was nothing more than a Big Labor power grab, and the Walberg and Perry amendment will finally put an end to this misguided policy.

In addition to the amendment addressing ambush elections, two more job-killing NLRB policies, namely the “micro-union” decision and new joint-employer standard, are addressed in this legislation.

Prior to the NLRB’s decision to create a pathway for micro-unions, labor organizers were expected to gain the support of a majority of employees in the workplace.

As more and more workers recognized the catastrophic implications unionization could have on their livelihoods and opposed the formation of collective bargaining units, Obama’s “independent” labor board made the decision to bypass Congress and change decades of labor precedent in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile.  

The decision enacted a new standard for determining the makeup of bargaining units, and the results were disastrous. The new government edict gave labor unions the power to gerrymander workplaces and allow small groups of employees to form collective bargaining units.  

This leads us to the new joint-employer standard, which adds to the long list of Obama-era NLRB policies that hurt workers and job creators. Before the new standard was implemented, employers were only liable for labor violations that occurred in workplaces under their “direct control.” 

However, under this new rule, liability was expanded to workers under their “indirect control,” meaning a business or company could be found liable in a variety of new situations, such as when it contracted work to a completely separate entity. 

By making employers liable for workplace violations at separate and independent entities, which are responsible for setting their own hours and labor policies, this decision impacted numerous industries. Franchises, for example, are responsible for more than 7.6 million jobs, and the new joint employer standard threatened the enormous opportunity these businesses provide their workers. 

In such a tumultuous time, Congress should be reassuring employees and employers that it is committed to creating a pro-worker, pro-hiring and pro-growth environment. As it stands currently, the labor reforms included in H.R. 3354 take meaningful steps toward ending NLRB policies that stifle growth and hurt workers. 

Members of Congress, regardless of their political affiliation, should represent the best interests of their constituents and support policies that will put an end to the NLRB’s overreaches. 

Heather Greenaway is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), a group that aims to defend the right of individual workers to freely choose whether to organize or not. WFI believes no individual or group — government, union nor employer — should intimidate or restrict workers’ in exercising these rights.