AFL-CIO President Applauds Obama Bureaucrats

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Kudos Go to NLRB Members For ‘Encouraging’ Monopolistic Unionism

The four current members of the powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), all appointed or reappointed by President Barack Obama, are poised to make a series of major decisions expanding forced unionism over the next few months.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO union conglomerate, is licking his chops at this prospect — and it’s no mystery why he and other union kingpins are eager to see the Obama NLRB reinvent the federal rules for unionization campaigns.

Chairman Wilma Liebman, an NLRB veteran first appointed to the agency in 1997 by then-President Bill Clinton and elevated to the leadership position by Mr. Obama in 2009, is an ex-Teamster union lawyer. And Obama appointees Craig Becker and Mark Pearce both come out of union legal ranks.

More important, Ms. Liebman, Mr. Becker, and Mr. Pearce have all already demonstrated a willingness to go well beyond the pro-forced unionism letter of federal labor law to make it as difficult as they can for independent employees and businesses to avoid union monopoly control.

Federal Labor Law Itself Tramples Freedom of Independent-Minded Workers

Only one current NLRB member, former GOP Senate staffer Brian Hayes, has shown any real reluctance to rewrite the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) whenever they turn out to be inconvenient for union organizers.

But Mr. Hayes is evidently destined to be perpetually outvoted by the three forced-unionism zealots who now sit with him on the Board. (The fifth NLRB seat remains vacant as this month’s Right to Work Newsletter goes to press.)

Even were it implemented as it is written, the decades-old NLRA would be an inveterate enemy of the American employee’s freedom to make personal decisions about unionism.

The NLRA explicitly provides that, when one more than half of employees, among those expressing an opinion, favor unionization, all employees may legally be forced to accept a particular union as their “exclusive” (monopoly) bargaining agent with regard to terms and conditions of employment.

Monopoly bargaining, sanctioned under the NLRA, denies employees who don’t want any union (or at least one particular union) the freedom to negotiate directly with their employer (or through another union).

This is not a case of “majority rule.” The fact is, when a majority of workers oppose unionization, the NLRA as interpreted by federal courts permits the minority of workers who want a union to select a union to negotiate contracts for members only.

But workers who oppose unionization are, when they are in the minority, denied the freedom to remain free of monopolistic unionism.

The NLRA also empowers union officials, except those whose coercive privileges are checked by a state Right to Work law, to browbeat employers into agreeing to fire employees who refuse to join or pay dues or fees to a union they don’t want.

However, as biased as federal labor law is, it hasn’t, especially in recent years, helped Big Labor acquire and maintain monopoly control over nearly as many private-sector workers as union officials and their political allies deem sufficient.

That’s why Mr. Trumka and company are now looking to the NLRB to grease the skids for thousands of additional Big Labor workplace takeovers.

‘Electronic’ Voting Would Facilitate ‘Card Check’-Style Abuses

On January 19, the AFL-CIO czar explained why he is so looking forward to seeing the Obama NLRB in action:

“We are seeing a President who supports collective bargaining [i.e., monopolistic unionism] and is doing what he can to have the National Labor Relations Board perform its function of encouraging that process.”

One significant way in which the NLRB may go about “encouraging” monopolistic unionism is through promotion of so-called “electronic” voting in workplace unionization campaigns.

Last June, the NLRB put out a request for information about “electronic voting services for both remote and on-site elections.”

The request has been widely interpreted as a step toward mandating the routine use of remote Internet or telephone balloting in union organizing campaigns.

Under current law, when a unionization election occurs, employees normally cast their votes in private ballot booths, except when circumstances make the use of ballot booths very difficult or impossible.

If the Obama NLRB dispenses with ballot booths, and instead makes it the norm for workers to cast their votes over unionization from, say, their home computers, that will greatly intensify the process’s bias in favor of union organizers.

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix pointed out: “Federal labor policy already authorizes professional union organizers to target individual workers by visiting them at their homes, a privilege of which the union hierarchy regularly takes advantage.

“Forcing employees to vote at home would greatly exacerbate the abuses that already occur during such ‘home visits.’ Union organizers would visit workers’ homes to ‘make sure’ they had voted electronically, and even offer to ‘help’ them cast their votes.

“In fact, the potential for Big Labor abuses generated by mandatory electronic balloting may be just as great as if Congress had replaced secret ballots in unionization campaigns with mandatory ‘card checks.’

“Because of overwhelming public opposition, mobilized largely by Right to Work members, Congress declined to heed Big Labor demands to mandate ‘card checks’ in 2009 and 2010.

“But NLRB bureaucrats could, even without Congress’s help, do just as much damage by mandating intrinsically insecure off-site electronic balloting.”

Mr. Mix added that the NLRB is far from the only federal bureaucracy that Obama appointees appear to be using as a prod to corral workers into unions.

Another major example is the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). A DOL “strategic plan” made public early this year actually states that “many” of the agency’s “outcome goals are furthered by high rates of [compulsory] union membership.”

Committee President Pledges To Work With Capitol Hill Allies to Thwart Power Grab

But Mr. Mix vowed that the Committee would work closely with Capitol Hill allies to block Obama bureaucrats from the NLRB, the DOL, and other agencies from using regulations to steepen federal labor law’s slant against the individual employee’s freedom.

“Enactment of budgetary or other legislation reining in NLRB and DOL abuses will be a tall order this year and next, given Big Labor Sen. Harry Reid’s [D-Nev.] continuing control over Congress’s upper chamber and President Obama’s continued veto power,” acknowledged Mr. Mix.

“But it’s a battle Right to Work supporters can’t afford to pass up. Committee members and supporters and their allies fought too hard during the first two years of the Obama Administration to block the ‘card-check’ scheme legislatively to now stand back and let it be imposed, effectively, by bureaucratic fiat.”

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