In the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 Congresses, Big Labor’s top objective was a rewrite of federal labor law making it even easier for union bosses to seize monopoly-bargaining power over millions of employees in the American private sector.
Union strategists’ legislative vehicle was the cynically mislabeled “Employee Free Choice Act,” introduced by pro-forced unionism Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). After Mr. Kennedy died in 2009, union-label Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin took over as the lead Senate sponsor.
The Miller-Kennedy-Harkin measure was more accurately called the “Card-Check” Forced-Unionism Bill.
Even without a federal card-check mandate, union bosses have long been able to acquire “exclusive” (monopoly) power to negotiate employees’ pay, benefits, and work rules solely through the acquisition of signed “union authorization cards.”
Consequently, individual workers under the peering eyes of union organizers may be intimidated into signing not just themselves, but all of their nonunion fellow employees, over to union-boss control.
However, as stacked as current law is in favor of Big Labor’s monopoly-bargaining power, employers nevertheless retain the right to stand up for their employees against union-boss intimidation tactics.
But Miller-Kennedy-Harkin would have empowered union officials to impose monopoly bargaining through card checks automatically, with no recourse for any pro-Right to Work employee or employer.
This legislation was totally contrary to the policy views of the vast majority of citizens, including union members.
Last November 2, 31 Card-Check Bill Supporters Lost Their Re-Election Bids
“Over the years, polls have shown Americans overwhelmingly oppose union monopoly bargaining, period,” explained National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.
“The public certainly has no interest in backing policies designed to help Big Labor grab monopoly-bargaining privileges over millions of additional workers.”
On Election Day, 2010, the American people had their say about whether Washington, D.C., should be handing union bosses more power over workers and helping funnel more forced dues into union coffers.
“Last November 2,” noted Mr. Mix, “31 House and Senate incumbents who had voted for the card-check scheme lost their re-election bids. This was about as clear an electoral repudiation as any bill ever gets.
“Unfortunately, the forced-unionism zealots who now hold all but one of the four occupied seats on the National Labor Relations Board don’t seem to have noticed.
“Despite the fact that voters in last fall’s elections sent a clear message they oppose the imposition of new federal policies to help Organized Labor increase the share of workers who are under union monopoly-bargaining control, the Obama NLRB last month unveiled its plan to achieve precisely that goal.”
‘Ambush’ Elections Would Deny Workers a Meaningful Vote
On June 22, Wilma Liebman, the ex-Teamster lawyer whom President Obama elevated to the NLRB chairmanship in 2009, and two other ex-union lawyers appointed by Mr. Obama to sit on the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to the current procedures through which Big Labor may obtain monopoly-bargaining privileges.
According to Peter Kirsanow, a former NLRB member and a Right to Work supporter, the proposed rules “would substantially shorten the time period between the filing of a petition for a union-representation election and the actual conduct of an election.”
Currently, the NLRB allows an average of 38-40 days from the time an employer is notified that a union is seeking monopoly-bargaining privileges over his or her employees to the time the workplace election occurs.
Employers often use that relatively brief period of time to make the case to their employees that unionization isn’t in their best interest.
But the “ambush” election rules proposed by the Obama NLRB would “shorten the time frame to a mere 10-20 days,” by Mr. Kirsanow’s assessment.
Mr. Mix charged: “Effectively, employees would be denied the opportunity to hear both sides of the story before voting on unionization, because employers would be denied enough time to make their case.
“The bottom-line impact of this bureaucratic sop to Big Labor would be very similar to that of the Miller-Kennedy-Harkin card-check mandate that union lobbyists tried unsuccessfully to ram through Congress from 2007 to 2010.”
Employee Phone Numbers, E-Mail Addresses Would Be Handed Over to Union Organizers
“In fact, as Mr. Kirsanow has correctly observed, the new rules would stack the deck against independent-minded employees so thoroughly that many employers would choose ‘not even to go through the expense’ of a rigged election, but ‘simply . . . recognize the union upon showing of authorization cards,'” Mr. Mix added.
In addition to effectively denying business owners and managers the opportunity to counter union organizers’ claims, the NLRB’s proposed new rules mandate that employee phone numbers and e-mail addresses be handed over to union organizers at the outset of each “ambush” election campaign.
“Current NLRB rules already seriously infringe on employees’ privacy by requiring their employers to hand over their names and physical addresses to union officials,” said Mr. Mix.
“But the new scheme would expose employees who don’t want to sign a union card or promise to vote for a union to even more intense Big Labor intimidation.
“And the new rules would also make it even more difficult for independent-minded employees and businesses to challenge election misconduct by union bosses and their henchmen.”
The NLRB’s proposed overhaul of union organizing campaign procedures wasn’t the only bad news for American employees and business owners who prefer to remain union-free to come out the week of June 19. The day before that plan went public, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced through her staff a reinterpretation of the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act.
This proposal would force employers to file federal reports whenever they seek outside help during union organizing campaigns, even if the consultants never communicate with any employees. Meanwhile, union organizers would continue to be exempt from reporting any hiring of consultants or lawyers.
In practice, the new Labor Department policy will, once it takes effect, encourage employers to capitulate to union organizing drives.
Committee President Vows to Back Legislation Thwarting New ‘Card Check’ Threat
“Thumbing their noses at the 2010 election results, President Barack Obama’s NLRB and Labor Department bureaucrats are now in the process of foisting ‘card check’ on American workplaces,” said Mr. Mix.
He vowed that the Committee would work closely with Capitol Hill allies to craft measures blocking implementation of the “card check” schemes introduced by the NLRB and the Labor Department last month.
“Enactment of legislation reining in such abuses will be a tall order in 2011 and 2012, due to the all but inevitable opposition of Big Labor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and President Obama’s veto power,” Mr. Mix acknowledged.
“But it’s a battle Right to Work supporters can’t afford to pass up. Before we can make things better, we have to stop them from getting even worse.”