Obama Labor Bureaucrats to Bypass Congress?

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

Three of the four current NLRB members who were appointed or reappointed by President Obama are veteran union lawyers. All three are expected to vote in lock-step to expand Big Labor's forced-unionism privileges.
(Source: July 2010 NRTWC Newsletter)

Since the beginning of 2009, Big Labor has had a cheerleader in the Oval Office. At the same time, ample majorities of both chambers of the U.S. Congress have been willing to vote for virtually any power grab sought by union officials, as long as they could do so without running into intense, across-the-board constituent opposition.

Consequently, top union bosses have expected to see enacted in the current Congress legislation that would help them sharply increase the share of all private-sector workers who are under union monopoly-bargaining control.

Their original vehicle for achieving this objective was S.560/H.R.1409, the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act.”

Sponsored by union-label Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.), S.560/H.R.1409 would grease the skids for Big Labor workplace takeovers in several ways. Most famously, it would effectively end secret-ballot elections in union organizing drives, replacing them with so-called “card checks.”

That means, if S.560/H.R.1409 became law, union organizers would have far more opportunities than they currently do to intimidate individual workers into signing not just themselves, but all of their nonunion fellow employees, over to Big Labor control.

Unfortunately for union bigwigs, the National Right to Work Committee and its allies have mobilized massive public opposition to the measure, greatly lowering its prospects for passage in its current form.

New NLRB Made to Order For Union Hierarchy

In response, for many months now Big Labor lobbyists and union strategists have tried to concoct new, passable legislation that would accomplish the same objective through somewhat different means. But “Plan B” has been slow to emerge.

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And now, the Obama Administration appears to be considering another, quicker and easier way of intensifying workplace elections’ bias in favor union organizers. And this method has the advantage, from Big Labor’s perspective, of not requiring any direct congressional involvement.

The powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which regulates the labor-management relations of businesses employing well over 90% of America’s private-sector employees, will soon be manned entirely by bureaucrats appointed or reappointed by pro-forced unionism President Barack Obama.

As this month’s Newsletter goes to press, four of the five NLRB members are already Obama appointees or reappointees. And three of these four are veteran union lawyers.

Wilma Liebman, originally appointed to the Board by union-label President Bill Clinton and elevated to the chairmanship early last year by Mr. Obama, is an ex-lawyer for the notorious Teamster union.

Obama appointee Mark Pearce was, until this year, a career union lawyer in private practice in Buffalo, N.Y.

Craig Becker, who for years served as counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO, has been Mr. Obama’s most controversial appointee yet.

While Mr. Becker, Mr. Pierce, and Ms. Liebman will very likely almost always agree on the main issues in NLRB cases, Mr. Becker differs from the other two in having a long “paper trail” that from the time of his nomination made it plain to see just how radical he is.

Craig Becker: Union Monopoly Should Be Mandated, Even if Most Workers Don’t Want It

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:

“Over the years, Craig Becker has publicly acknowledged believing that any employee or employer efforts to resist the unionization of a workplace are unacceptable.

“For example, in one ‘labor studies’ journal article, Mr. Becker dismissed the notion that workers should have any say whatsoever, whether as individuals or collectively by secret ballot or ‘card check,’ over whether or not they are unionized.

“Federal policy should not acknowledge employees’ ‘choice to remain unrepresented,’ contended Mr. Becker.

“Their only choice, he explained, should be over which set of union officials get ‘exclusive’ power to negotiate their wages, benefits and work rules.

“Mr. Becker’s publicly aired views are so extreme that even several normally pro-forced unionism senators refused to approve his nomination. For that reason, he has yet to be confirmed. He nevertheless sits on the NLRB today because, on March 27, President Obama bypassed the Senate and ‘recess’ appointed him.

“It’s likely Mr. Becker will take every opportunity to curtail employees’ freedom to oppose unionization of their workplace.

“Ms. Liebman, Mr. Pierce, and he are all expected to vote in lock-step to increase Big Labor’s monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues powers over the individual employee whenever they get the chance.

“And barely more than two months after President Obama did the union bosses’ bidding by personally installing Mr. Becker, the Board signaled how it might bureaucratically proceed to provide Big Labor with tools of intimidation very similar to those the ‘card check’ bill would have furnished.”

On June 9, 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.

Remote Voting Facilitates ‘Vote Selling and Coercion’

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.

“Federal labor policy already authorizes professional union organizers to target individual workers by visiting them at their homes, a privilege of which they regularly take advantage,” Mr. Mix pointed out.

“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.

“The NLRB request purports to focus solely on ‘secure’ electronic voting from remote locations, but, as Ms. [Wilma] Liebman, Mr. [Mark] Pierce, and Mr. Becker must surely know, that’s a practical impossibility.

“Remote Internet voting, as a report sponsored by the National Science Foundation and published by the Internet Policy Institute concluded a few years ago, ‘can be observed [by outsiders], opening the door to the possibilities of vote selling and coercion.'”

Right to Work Supporters Will Fight Back in Every Possible Way

On June 23, the Committee’s sister organization, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, formally submitted comments to the NLRB urging the agency not to proceed with implementing an abuse-ridden electronic balloting scheme.

Mr. Mix, who heads the Foundation as well as the Committee, acknowledged that Wilma Liebman and her cohorts were unlikely to pay heed, but added that going on the record now would be helpful for a future legal challenge.

“Right to Work supporters will fight back against ‘electronic’ voting, also known as ‘card check light,’ in every possible way,” Mr. Mix vowed.

“If the NLRB goes ahead with its scheme, as now seems all but inevitable, the Right to Work movement will lead legislative as well as legal efforts to thwart it.”