- - Thursday, May 25, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Elections have consequences, or at least they are supposed to. Unfortunately for the rights of independent workers who don’t want to associate with a labor union, more than 100 days have passed since Barack Obama left office, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) remains in the hands of an Obama majority intent on pushing the limits of Big Labor’s forced unionism powers. It doesn’t need to be that way.

The five-seat NLRB, with two vacancies, remains controlled by a two-to-one Obama majority. Until two new members are nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the Big Labor majority will continue to issue rulings to expand union boss powers.

As more and more workers are protected by the now 28-state Right to Work laws, which prohibit forced dues and fees, union bosses desperate for new sources of forced-dues cash have concocted new and outrageous schemes — aided and abetted by the Obama NLRB.

Take one recent example. Last month, citing an earlier decision by Mr. Obama’s NLRB classifying graduate students as employees for the purposes of unionization, a regional director of the federal agency opened the door to undergraduate students being forced under Big Labor’s thumb — even if the “compensation” they receive consists mostly of free room and board for serving as resident assistants in college dorms.

As one federal judge explained, under Mr. Obama’s appointees, the NLRB has shifted “from its investigatory function and enforcer of labor law, to serving as the litigation arm of the Union, and a co-participant in the ongoing organization effort of the Union.”

Stacked with forced-dues militants, Mr. Obama’s NLRB has consistently done everything in its power — and frequently far more than it is legally authorized to do — to grease the skids in favor of forced unionization.

For instance, unable to convince workers to join unions voluntarily, union organizers increasingly rely on “card check” organizing drives to intimidate, trick or cajole workers into forced-dues-paying ranks without secret-ballot votes. Thanks to the Obama NLRB, these drives are more dangerous than ever.

Mr. Obama’s appointees overturned the Dana Corp. decision, won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, that secured for workers a limited right to challenge the results of a “card check” campaign with a secret-ballot election.

Later, the NLRB instituted new rules for unionization elections that allow union organizers to ambush workers with quick-snap elections, denying them sufficient time to educate themselves about the pros and cons of unionization. Adding insult to injury, these rules force employers to hand over to union organizers the personal contact information of every employee, and union officials can withdraw their petition for an election and retain that information to launch a full-scale “card check” campaign at a later date.

In other power grabs, the Obama NLRB gutted a Supreme Court decision prohibiting union bosses from forcing workers to pay for lobbying and political expenses; enabled union bosses to target and organize “micro” units of workers even when they know most workers in a workplace oppose unionization; and ignored 60 years of precedent by forcing companies to continue automatic dues collection even after monopoly bargaining agreements expire.

And the hits against employee freedom will surely keep coming until the two vacancies on the board are filled.

Mr. Trump, who pledged to support the Right to Work principle in his campaign, can return the board to being a neutral arbiter of labor law. Following former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move to gut the filibuster on nominations in 2013, Big Labor’s politicians in the Senate are unlikely to block Mr. Trump’s nominees.

There are already a number of cases in the NLRB’s pipeline that could serve as vehicles to overturn many of the Obama NLRB’s most biased decisions. In fact, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys at any given time have more than 60 cases at the NLRB providing free legal aid to workers victimized by compulsory unionism abuses.

Other Obama NLRB actions can be overturned administratively. For instance, a new board could repeal the ambush elections rules and end the Obama board’s practice of needlessly delaying decertification elections that allow workers to remove unwanted unions.

Barack Obama’s NLRB has reshaped American labor law to expand forced-unionism power over rank-and-file workers. Until President Trump acts and the Senate confirms his nominees, the fox is actually inside the henhouse at the NLRB.

• Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

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