On Tuesday*, a mere four business days after the union extremists at President Obama's National Labor Relations Board issued an edict forcing all NLRA-covered private-sector businesses to notify their employees about their rights to unionize their workplace, the government's primary union pushers issued a series of decisions that undermine both employee's rights and employers ability to remain or become union free.
* The decisions were made before former Teamster attorney and NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman's term ended Saturday night, but were issued on Tuesday afternoon.
In the first case released, Lamons Gasket, Inc., the union-backed Democrats on the NLRB removed employees' rights to petition to decertify (via secret-ballot election) a union where the employer had recognized the union based on the flawed process known as card-check. The ruling in this case reverses the precedent established in 2007 (under the Bush NLRB) that gave employees who were unionized via an employer's voluntary recognition of a union through card check 45 days to challenge the union's status by getting 30% of the employees' signatures to hold an election.
This decision is a companion case to last year's decision by the Obama NLRB that legitimizes "sweetheart unions"—unions that trade away employees' interests in exchange for unionizing them through card-check and voluntary recognition. While the NLRB legitimized sweetheart unions last year, until Tuesday, employees could petition to decertify the union within 45 days. Now, thanks to the union extremists at the NLRB and their union handlers, employees have lost that right.
In a somewhat similar case, UGL-UNICCO Service Company, the Obama NLRB reversed a 2002 precedent that gave employees the right to decertify a union following a change of ownership of a company. In 2002, in MV Transportation, the Bush NLRB decision created an immediate window after the sale or merger for the union’s status to be challenged by 30% of employees, the new employer, or a rival union. As in the Lamons Gasket case, under certain conditions, unionized employees lose the ability to decertify a union that they do not want.
The third case, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, has had employers alarmed for months with fears the NLRB would open the door toward micro-unions. While the NLRB stated in its press release that it "did not create new criteria for determining appropriate bargaining units outside of health care facilities," the NLRB did reverse a 20-year old precedent on how non-acute care health care facilities (i.e., nursing homes).
According to the lawyers at Labor Relations Today, fears of micro-unions are well founded:
More importantly (and more troubling), however, the Board’s decision unambiguously states that when a group of employees or union petitions for an “identifiable” group of employees, that unit should be an appropriate unit unless the employer (or another interested party like another union) demonstrates that excluded employees in a larger unit share “an overwhelming community of interest with those in a petitioned for unit”. In other words, the NLRB is clearly signaling that a union’s expressed desire to represent some subset of the employee population – such as one job classification, or one department -- should control absent overwhelming evidence that the requested unit would constitute a “fractured” unit.
As an example on how micro-unions could work, suppose Mom & Pop's Diner has six employees—two dishwashers, two cooks and two waitresses. Each separate classification (or department) could be unionized separately.
Under the micro-union theory, not only is it possible for one union to unionize just the dishwashers as a single bargaining unit, the cooks could unionize with yet another union, and the waitresses could unionize with yet a third union. Each could be separate bargaining units and Mom & Pop's owners could be forced to deal with three different unions for a mere six employees.
According to a Coalition for a Democratic Workplace statement:
In a crucial case, Specialty Healthcare, Obama’s Board voted 3-1 to help labor organizers create swarms of “micro-union” campaigns by changing rules regarding how similar employees are counted with respect to bargaining units. Now, said CDW chairman Geoffrey Burr, “this added burden and uncertainty will only dampen the ability and interest of entrepreneurs and employers to create jobs and spur an economic recovery.”
In a release issued on Tuesday, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) stated:
“In one fell blow, the NLRB has overruled years of labor policy in an underhanded scheme designed to please its powerful Big Labor allies. The decisions handed down will turn workers against coworkers and undermine an employees’ ability to challenge unionization. Adding insult to injury, the NLRB is also advancing a proposal that will stifle an employer’s free speech and undermine an employee’s free choice."
It doesn't take a rocket science (but, apparently, it does take more than a union extremist) to realize how the Obama NLRB's attacks on workers and job creators are undermining America's economy.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com