- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee harshly attacked on Tuesday proposed new rules from the National Labor Relations Board designed to drastically shorten the period workers have to consider a vote to join a union.

Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, who is the panel’s chairman, said in a statement that the NLRB, now dominated by appointees of President Obama, “continues to push an activist agenda at the expense of our nation’s workforce.”

“Not only will this misguided proposal to expedite union elections undermine an employer’s lawful right to communicate with his or her employees, it will cripple a worker’s ability to make an informed decision,” Mr. Kline warned.

Labor unions long have complained that management has used delay and other tactics in an effort to thwart union organizing efforts. Most workplace elections take up to two months to be held after a union gathers enough signatures to file a petition.

The new plan could cut that time by days or even weeks by simplifying procedures, deferring litigation and setting shorter deadlines for hearings and filings.

Top leaders of the labor movement, a key constituency in Mr. Obama’s political base, were quick to hail the NLRB proposal. Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry said the NLRB proposal represents “a positive step for workers who want to exercise their fundamental right to decide for themselves whether to form a union.”

“Too many workers have seen their efforts to join together on the job defeated by costly litigation and delaying tactics by their employer,” she added. “Many never get the chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box. This rule change would protect a right that is central to our democracy — the right to vote.”

The NLRB already has been a target of GOP and business anger for its clash with aerospace giant Boeing over the company’s proposed new manufacturing plant in South Carolina. The agency has filed a motion to block the plant from opening, saying Boeing officials were illegally punishing union workers in their manufacturing base in Washington state by opening the new, nonunion plant.

Mr. Kline vowed Tuesday to fight the implementation of the new organizing rules.

“I will continue to oppose any efforts to undermine these fundamental principles,” he said.