This week, on Monday and Tuesday, an "open meeting" occurred at President Obama's National Labor Relations Board over the NLRB's proposal to move toward ambush elections. Though largely a waste of time, since the union appointees running the NLRB have little intent to listen to the practical side of labor relations and will do the unions' bidding, there is a simple solution to resolving this entire matter that is straightforward, fair and apolitical.
Here's the background: For the last five years, there has been a bill in Congress that unions have pushed using deceptively biased and flawed data. The hallucinogencially-named Employee Free Choice Act, if enacted, would effectively strip employees of their right to a secret-ballot election on the issue of unionization. With the process known as "card check" as a key component, the job-killing legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2007 but stalled in the Senate, yet has had employers on edge since it was first introduced.
Since card check has laid comatose following the election of Sen. Scott Brown [R-MA] in February 2010, several states have passed amendments to their state constitutions preserving the secret ballot, only to be later sued by Obama's union appointees at the NLRB.
In addition, as it has largely fallen upon the union extremists at the NLRB to make it easier for union bosses to unionize companies on, the NLRB has been busy reinterpreting cases for their union handlers.
In late June, over two consecutive days, both the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board issued proposed rule changes to effectively neuter employer opposition to unionization. While the Department of Labor's proposed rules have wider implications than most realize, it has been the NLRB's ambush election proposal that has drawn the most criticism.
Under the NLRB's proposed rules, as opposed to the current 38 days, employers may end up facing union elections in as little as ten to 21 days following a union's filing to hold an election. Since unions already win 68% of the NLRB elections, the union-NLRB proposal is certain to produce even greater unions wins—and more dues for union bosses.
Introduced in the Senate back in January by Jim DeMint [R-SC] and the House in March by Rep. Phil Roe [R-TN], the Secret Ballot Protection Act would ensure that employees have a right to decide on the question of unionization through a secret ballot. More importantly, it would end, once and for all, the deceptive practice of card check which gives union organizers the ability to trick workers into signing their rights over to a union.
Given the current debate over the NLRB's proposed rules to hold ambush elections, a simple sentence can be added to the bill that states: No election shall take place within 35 days following the filing of a petition, nor on a date to exceed 56 days following the filing of a petition.
By inserting a sentence into the Secret Ballot Protection Act that establishes specific timetables, this would negate management's alleged stalling during certification elections, as well as negate union stalling during decertification elections.
If there were to be challenges to the specific bargaining unit, as is the case today, the parties would have ample time to state its position to the NLRB, as well as file appeals within that time frame.
As stated by one of the witnesses at the NLRB's "open meeting" on Monday:
“It is patently unfair to make it virtually impossible for an employer to present the other side of the organizers’ pitch,” said Brett McMahon, a vice president of Miller and Long Construction, a large nonunion contractor in the Washington area. “What is to fear from a fully engaged presentation of the facts from the employer’s perspective?”
Even though they already win a vast majority of NLRB elections, unions would prefer to have no opposition. However, given unions' dismal track record at driving businesses out of business, employers (and their employees) do have a stake in the outcome of union elections.
As a result, it doesn't take partisanship to come up with something that is fair for employees and the Secret Ballot Protection Act, along with a simple sentence inserted, is the vehicle that can provide a bipartisan solution for all stakeholders.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776