Obama Bureaucrats Promote Monopolistic Unionism

President Obama's overarching labor policy seems to be, "The more union monopoly bargaining, the better." Credit: L.A. Times
(Source: June 2010 NRTWC Newsletter)

Right to Work Fights For Independent Transportation Employees

Over the past three-quarters of a century, federal labor policy has done enormous damage to employees and businesses by authorizing and promoting monopolistic unionism.

Federally-imposed “exclusive” union bargaining undermines efficiency and productivity by forcing employers to reward equally their most productive and least productive employees.

The damage is compounded when the employees already hurt by being forced to accept a union bargaining agent opposed to their interests are forced as well to pay dues or fees to the unwanted union.

Fortunately, Right to Work laws in 22 states, where nearly 40% of the private-sector work force is employed, prohibit the collection of forced dues from the vast majority of employees. (Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Congress have recognized states’ freedom to protect employees’ Right to Work.)

However, in 1951, when Congress first foisted forced union dues and fees on employees covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), Big Labor senators and representatives opted to deny states the option to protect employees’ Right to Work.

Ever since, Big Labor has had the government-granted power to get airline and railroad employees fired for refusal to bankroll a union in all 50 states, including Right to Work states.

Partly in order to compensate for the unique privileges airline/railroad union bosses enjoy, even relative to other union bosses, federal labor policy has long set a somewhat higher bar for RLA-covered union officials to acquire monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues powers.

New Rule Intensifies Federal Policy’s Pro-Big Labor Monopoly Bias

Until this spring, unlike most private-sector union officials, airline and railroad union bosses have needed the backing of the majority of all of a firm’s employees in a “craft or class,” not merely the majority of those who vote, to be installed as employees’ monopoly-bargaining agent.

This somewhat higher bar hasn’t been a huge problem for airline and railroad union organizers. According to labor economists Barry Hirsch and David Macpherson, in 2009, 42% of “air transportation” employees and 69% of “rail transportation” employees were under union monopoly bargaining, compared to just 8% of all private-sector employees.

Nevertheless, Big Labor’s motto is, “The more monopoly bargaining, the better.” And union strategists know President Barack Obama, who reaffirmed in April that he is a “pro-[forced] union guy” and makes “no apologies for it,” shares that sentiment.

That’s why, last fall, it wasn’t hard at all for union bosses to persuade the two Barack Obama appointees who now constitute a majority of the three-member National Mediation Board (NMB) to rewrite the RLA rules.

As a consequence of the change, starting this month, airline and railroad union officials will need the backing only of a majority of employees who vote to get monopoly-bargaining power.

Because, in practice, only a minority of all potential voters participate in many elections over unionization, this rule will often allow a pro-union minority of workers to foist a union on the majority of their fellow employees who prefer not to have a union.

Right to Work Supporters Already Fighting Back

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Doug Stafford vowed to do everything possible to reverse Obama bureaucrats’ RLA rule change.

On one front, Committee legislative leaders are working with pro-Right to Work Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) on a resolution that could overturn the unwarranted change legislatively.

On a second front, attorneys for the Committee’s sister organization, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, are representing five independent Delta employees in a bid to get the rule overturned in court.

The Foundation motion charges, in part, that Obama NMB appointees Harry Hoglander and Linda Puchala should not have voted on the rule change, because, as former airline union officials, they both had a conflict of interest.