NLRB Trying to Ram Through Pro-Union Ambush Election Rules
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been in the news lately mostly for its attempt to drive work from Boeing's recently-opened South Carolina plant. But a more nefarious issue, having to do with ambush elections has been flying underneath the radar.
A recent Free Enterprise cover story gives some political background:
The anti-business majority on the board is rushing to rewrite labor law because it will soon lose its majority. Chairwoman Wilma Liebman, the third longest-serving member in the NLRB’s history, completed her third term and had to step down on August 28, 2011. Fellow Democrat Craig Becker, an Obama recess appointee, will have to step down at the end of the year, leaving a deadlocked board.
At the end of the month, the two pro-union members of the board plan to steamroll the one Republican member and impose a rule that shortens the time to schedule a union election to as little as 10-21 days. This would give employers little time to educate employees about the ramifications of forming a union.
In a letter to House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN), NLRB member Brian Hayes said that he was told by pro-union board members that if he didn't agree with the proposed rule "it would, nonetheless, be approved and published based on their two-member vote." He would not be "afforded the requisite opportunity to review and draft a dissent to the rule," and "would be limited to doing so after publication of the rule."
Hayes went on to write that, such actions would "contravene longstanding board tradition and the board's own internal operating rules."
What the NLRB is trying to pull off is similar to what happened in 2009 with the National Mediation Board. In that instance, Chairwoman Elizabeth Dougherty was kept out the loop by her pro-union colleagues in the development of a proposal to make union organizing easier in the airline and railroad industries.
If the new proposal is anything like the one the NLRB released in June, then there are serious problems with the substance. What's irksome here is that the NRLB is running roughshod over its own policymaking process. Instead of transparency, the pro-union members of the board want to ram through a pro-union rule. That's putting politics ahead of good policy.