On Thursday, the House voted to override a rule from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), implemented last year, that allows unions to hold elections to organize a workforce in as little as eight days. (The average length of time for a workplace election is 38 days.) Crucially, the NLRB rule appears to force employers to violate their employees' privacy by handing over work schedules and personal contact information for employees to unions without the employees' consent. Considering the longstanding history of unions harassing and even engaing in violence toward those who oppose organizing efforts, this is a particularly troubling aspect of the NLRB rule.
The law invalidating the NLRB rule had previously passed the Senate, and President Obama plans to veto it. Unions spent an astounding $400 million in the 2008 election cycle helping Obama get elected and didn't scrimp in 2012, either. Unions have spent freely on elections despite the fact that some of the nation's biggest unions such as the SEIU are heavily in debt, and union pension plans are about $160 billion in the red. Unions feel Obama owes them, and they're not wrong. He's repaid unions by stacking the NLRB with union partisans -- in some cases he's done this in the face of bipartisan opposition -- who have been beavering away trying to slant the regulatory playing field toward unions.
"Instead of seeking to undermine a streamlined democratic process for American workers to vote on whether or not they want to be represented, the Congress should join the president in strengthening protections for American workers and giving them more of a voice in the workplace and the economy," the White House said in response to the House's voting to override the NLRB.
The problem is that unions have dwindled to about 6 percent of the private-sector workforce. Many states have given employees a choice in whether they want to join a union and have correspondingly seen union membership crater. The union response to this is has been to push undemocratic measures in union elections such as "card check" -- which would eliminate secret ballots in union elections -- and now the NLRB's "ambush election" rule. By supporting the NLRB, the president is not advocating on behalf of the whole of the American workforce so much as a special interest that spent $4.4 billion on politicking between 2005 and 2011, almost exclusively to the benefit of the Democratic party. Union spending exceeds all direct political donations combined.
"If unions really care about workers, and if they are confident that their benefits of the union outweigh the costs, they’ll give workers as much time as they need," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted after passing the bill to nullify the NLRB rule yesterday. He added, "And what makes this situation worse is that ambush elections will soon be forced on workers not by an act of Congress but unelected bureaucrats at the NLRB. That’s an affront to the separation of powers that this country was based upon."
It's worth noting that in order to vote to invalidate the NLRB, Congress employed a seldom used law called the "Congressional Review Act" that allows them to review bureaucratic rules such as this. With luck, Congress is wising up to the fact that the federal administrative state has gotten out of control and start using Congressional Review Act to invalidate a whole slew of damaging rules the executive brach has gotten away implementing in recent years.
The NLRB's ambush elections rule is supposed to go into effect on April 14, but the Chamber of Commerce and allied business interests have filed a lawsuit to stop it. Stay tuned.