Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day 2011: Big Labor' s Big Plans

When casting a ballot for president, a citizen is not just voting for one man or woman but thousands of bureaucrats that will populate administrative agencies. The Obama administration has loaded up federal agencies with far-left interventionists who are strangling business with ideologically driven regulations in another damaging end-run around Congress.

There was a lot of hoopla on Friday as the Obama administration shelved certain EPA air pollution rules that would apparently cost thousands of jobs. Leaving aside the merits or demerits of the regulations in question, if the administration really has a plan to create jobs, it needs among other things to tell the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop rubber stamping the obsolete agenda of Big Labor. The logical extension of these government-imposed policies that make companies run less efficiently would be to force more jobs overseas, which means everyone loses, union and non-union workers alike.

We've seen the havoc that public sector unions have wrought on the taxpayer. As we have written previously, there is also a lot of corruption and waste in the business world, and private employers often make irrational decisions, but why would anyone want to make the situation--especially in a down economy--far worse by imposing horse-and-buggy workrules on them?

Organized labor achieved important worker reforms back in the days of black-and-white movies in which everyone wore fedoras and business suits and ties if you will. But that was then, this is now. The NLRB as currently constituted, however, writes Steve Huntley in the Chicago Sun Times, "discourages business investment and job creation..." and is a "fundamental road block to reducing the nation’s persistently high unemployment rate."
So, to reverse the decline in union fortunes, the labor movement has turned to its Democratic friends in government to put a thumb on the scales to tip the balance against employers. Labor’s chief goal coming out of the 2008 election was a “card check” proposal to eliminate the secret ballot in union certification votes. It was a bridge too far even though Democrats had overwhelming majorities in Congress because conservative Democrats couldn’t swallow such an anti-democratic and anti-business measure. It would have opened the way for union thugs to muscle employees to sign union cards to win certification.
In the custom of the Obama administration turning to regulation to achieve what it can’t get through Congress, the National Labor Relations Board picked up the ball. It speeded up union representation election procedures to deny employers time to make their case and employees time to learn about all the implications of unionization. The NLRB ordered that employers must post notices — with the agency’s bureaucrats dictating the poster’s dimensions, color and type size — about the right to unionize. Another NLRB ruling allows unions to cherry pick employees in nursing homes to participate in union representation elections in order to improve the chances of a yes vote.
The most notorious NLRB pro-union action is its effort to prevent Boeing from building a new jetliner-construction plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state.
The Washington Examiner editorializes on this issue:
Unfortunately, President Obama still hasn't provided an effective plan to restore our economic dynamism and put these people back to work. Instead, he has focussed his labor policies on the few Americans (one in 14 in the private sector) who still belong to unions, largely ignoring the 90 percent of workers who don't. That's because those unions -- in many cases against their members' desires -- provide massive, poorly disclosed, campaign expenditures on behalf of Democrats. The result has been panoply of policies that are sapping America's economic vigor while enshrining privileges for a fortunate few.
Obama's National Labor Relations Board, far from serving as a mediator and peacekeeper between labor and industry, has become an advocate for a specific Democratic interest group.
Similarly, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin maintains that instead of speechmaking, Obama should put a stop to his administration's "anti-capitalist fervor" to get the economy rolling again:
The centralization of power in Washington has produced a skewed economy. Underserved and unaffordable perks are lavished on the well-connected few, especially government unions, while opportunities for most workers are snuffed out. If the best social program is a job -- and it is -- then the Obama administration is guilty of malpractice...[Obama] should say he is holding off on implementing ObamaCare and stopping the slew of financial restrictions in Dodd-Frank. He could order the National Labor Relations Board to get its boot off companies so they can hire and tell regulators to stop suing the pants off banks and other businesses. He could stop his attacks on success and wealth.
Workplace unionism in particular should rise or fall on its own merits without any devious NLRB manipulation. And while we're at it, let's end corporate welfare/crony capitalism too.

Let's hope these job-destroying NLRB decisions are vigorously challenged in by Congress and/or in federal court.

In the meantime, happy Labor Day.

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