Looking back on some old articles regarding Obama and his labot agenda, or more appropriately organized labor’s agenda, it is clear that thus far the Republicans have held fairly firm against these rather radical set of proposals. Perhaps, the only two “achievements” are the Ledbetter Act and the increasing and alarming influence of the NLRB. Regarding the former, the Ledbetter Act was passed during the same duck 2008 Congress and signed into law by Obama shortly after his inauguration. In fact, it was the first thing Obama signed into law to great fanfare.
In reality, there is very little controversy surrounding the law itself. It basically corrected a ruling by the Supreme Court regarding what amounts to a statute of limitations on filing pay discrimination complaints with the EEOC. In essence, it corrected a statutory, technical glitch in the original law which the Supreme Court all but invited Congress to do with their decision. This was hardly landmark civil rights, pro-labor, or feminist legislation and certainly unworthy of the fanfare. If anything, this was not a payback to women’s groups and unions as much as it was one to lawyers and the litigation proliferation lobby.
The more insidious achievement is the NLRB being transformed from a referee in labor disputes into a de facto union advocacy organization. But that is to be inspected when the General Counsel- in effect, the NLRB’s prosecutor- is a former counsel to the SEIU, perhaps the strongest political and most corrupt union in the country. To assume that Craig Becker, a recess appointee, would win outright Senate confirmation at this point denies reality. The fears postulated by businesses and conservatives regarding Becker have proved true over time. He and the NLRB is building a good case against themselves with their arrogance.
So it pays to look at some of the “achievements” of the Obama NLRB thus far. A NLRB directive to local offices directs them to adopt standard language in settlement agreements that place the employer at a disadvantage. For example, the language is to read that a single violation of the agreement is tantamount to the employer being considered “guilty” of all complaints that led to the settlement in the first place. Another directive advises local offices to to cease the decades-old practice of deference to arbitration decisions if they are offered in the collective bargaining agreement. In other words, if the union fails in arbitration, they get a second chance even if the union negotiated arbitration in the first place. Why employers or unions would even negotiate for the less costly arbitration option is beyond me. The two actions, taken together, are subtle pressures on employers to the advantage of unions.
Then there are the recent decisions that seek to redefine bargaining units. Traditionally, unionization efforts generally target the workforce as a whole. However, the NLRB seems to prefer and condone a business being targeted by multiple unions, or a single union targeting a minority of the workforce. For example, imagine a union trying to unionize nurses in a hospital and they fail. Under this new policy, they can then target only surgical nurses and thus get a foot in the hospital’s door. There was the decision that communication on social websites like Facebook are protected forms of speech in union drives and should be allowed. It is quite possible this could have an effect on employer rules regarding the use of these sites in the workplace if they involve union “messages.” They are considering the requirement of signage in workplaces advising workers of their right to unionize under the FLSA. Secondary boycotts seem to have found a sympathetic ear with Obama’s NLRB. This is the infamous inflatable rat making appearances not at non-union work sites, but at customers and suppliers of the non-union companies. The NLRB is considering a rule that if a business allows a charitable organization like the Girl Scouts selling cookies on its premises, then it must allow unfettered access to union organizers. Two recent decisions, both noted recently here on Redstate.com, stated that Manhattan College and St. Xavier are not Catholic enough for the tastes of the NLRB and thus open to unionization efforts.
Arizona seems to be the government’s list of states to attack. Arizona passed a constitutional amendment that specified union elections be by secret ballot. Other states have passed similar measures during the EFCA debate. However, the NLRB went after Arizona in federal court first (they later added South Dakota) for merely making formal at the state level what is federal law now. Meanwhile, the NLRB turns its back on union endorsed neutrality agreements where in exchange for labor peace, employers agree to card check elections and other pro-union activities. And, of course, there is the infamous NLRB case against Boeing’s decision to build and operate a plant in South Carolina. In perhaps the most blatant grab of power in United States labor history, they are now using the concept of “unfair labor practice” to dictate where a business may locate. If they succeed, businesses may very well locate beyond the reach of the NLRB which would help NO American- union or non-union.
I fully understand that when a Democrat occupies the White House, it is the employer who generally bemoans the NLRB. Likewise, when a Republican occupies the White House, it is organized labor that does the most belly aching. But some statistics and facts are in order. In 1998, under Bill Clinton, the NLRB supervised over 3,300 union elections of which the union prevailed in 52% of the time. In 2007, under Republican George W. Bush, unions won 918 of 1,519 elections which represented over 95,000 workers. the union success rate in 2007 was 60.4%. The allegedly do-nothing Bush NLRB supervised 1,579 elections in 2008 with them prevailing in 1054 of them and representing over 120,000 workers. The union success rate in 2008 was 66.8%, the highest rate of success since 1955! That is, as unions overall were in decline, under Bush’s NLRB, unions prevailed in the vast majority of their efforts. In 2009, under Obama, there were only 1,304 elections.
In typical Democratic Party fashion, that which cannot be achieved legislatively they achieve bureaucratically. Government agencies like the NLRB and EPA and the like place constitutional government upside down. If Obama’s Medicare boards or his consumer protection watchdog under Frank-Dodd are anything like his NLRB, then this economy is surely doomed to stagnation European-style. If for no other reason, Obama and his cronies must be defeated in 2012.