Published March 01, 2012
No bureaucratic entity has wreaked more havoc on the U.S. economy of late than the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which infamously sued Boeing for locating in a right-to-work state, is suing four states to overturn their private ballot protections in union elections, and has pursued a dizzying array of regulations and decisions designed to rig the rules and force workers into unions against their will.
To keep the tilt to union bosses going strong, last month Obama took the unprecedented step of declaring the Senate to be in recess – while it believed itself to be in session – so he could appoint union radical Richard Griffin to keep the rewards flowing to union bosses who provide the critical funding and muscle for Obama's re-election effort.
Griffin comes directly from the International Union of Operating Engineers, one of the most chronically corrupt unions in America, and he has a history of intimidating and silencing rank-and-file union workers to advance the interests of union bosses.
The latest evidence of the anti-worker attitude at the NLRB comes from the agency's own employees. A flyer recently distributed by the NLRB Union said, "The NLRBU urges Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon and Chairman Mark Pearce to practice what they preach and stop trying to destroy their employees' union."
Yes, you read that correctly.
The key implementers of Obama's union agenda are allegedly engaging in union-busting activities against their own employees. It's just the latest evidence that Obama and his allies are more interested in helping union bosses collect more dues to funnel into politics than actually helping union workers.
Consider the ambush elections rule.
The current median of 38 days before a union election gives both sides an opportunity to explain the facts and ensure workers understand the high stakes in a representation election. The new rule will shorten it to as little as 10 days – with the union organizers controlling the timing to maximize the element of surprise – and could result in workers being forced into unions without understanding the implications. The rule also eliminates procedural safeguards employers currently have to make sure union elections are duly authorized and eligible workers are properly defined before an election takes place.
Moreover, NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce has already indicated that if the rule stands he intends to go much further in rigging the process to favor union organizers at the expense of workers and employers. "We keep our eye on the prize," he recently said.
He specifically promised to force confidential employee information, including phone numbers and email addresses, to be made available to union organizers. That would potentially expose workers to harassment, intimidation, or even violence.
Fortunately, every United States senator will soon have an opportunity to overturn the NLRB's ambush election rule and by implication to stand up to the NLRB's whole anti-growth, anti-worker agenda to reward union bosses. That's because Senator Mike Enzi R-Wyo. has brought a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which creates a special procedure under which a petition from 30 senators can force an up-or-down floor vote on overturning a federal regulation that cannot be filibustered.
The Enzi Resolution, (S.J. Res 36), which would simply overturn the ambush elections rule, has 43 cosponsors – more than enough to force a floor vote.
The cosponsors include every Senate Republican other than Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska, Scott Brown R-Mass., and Mark Kirk R-Ill. Kirk is incapacitated; it's unclear what excuse Murkowski and Brown have. While no Democrats have yet cosponsored the Enzi Resolution, there are 11 senators from right-to-work state who should be inclined to stand up to an NLRB that appears determined to undermine the right to work.
Senate leadership has elevated doing nothing to an art form, refusing to pass a budget for years and allowing dozens of House-passed jobs bills to languish. On the Enzi Resolution we will soon have a rare meaningful vote in the U.S. Senate on an issue critical to economic growth and worker rights. Citizens should watch it closely and hold their senators accountable.
Mr. Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of Democracy Denied (BenBella Books, 2011).