- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2011


American workers, entrepreneurs and other concerned people have correctly expressed outrage at the Obama National Labor Relations Board’s persecution of the Boeing Co.

for creating more than 1,000 new jobs in South Carolina over the objections of union bosses 3,000 miles away.

It’s not every day that federal labor board proceedings catch the media spotlight, but there’s good reason for all the attention. The complaint against Boeing by Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon is as preposterous as it is unprecedented, and the sought-for remedy is unfair and punitive, all of which has been well covered on these pages.

While the Boeing case is a visibly egregious assault on our free-enterprise system, it’s hardly the first, or even the latest, forced-unionism power grab launched by the Obama labor board.

Through its decisions in cases and in internal “rule-making,” the board effectively has taken up Big Labor’s agenda, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker, were unable to get through Congress. In particular, the board is pushing card-check unionization, an aggressive organizing tactic in which union operatives harass or intimidate workers - often at workers’ homes - to sign “union authorization cards” and install the union in the workplace without a secret-ballot vote.

In fact, through the Boeing case, the board appears to be pushing card-check recognition as the preferred NLRB “remedy” for union accusations of employer misconduct, a likelihood bolstered by reports that a card-check “neutrality agreement” has been discussed three times already in settlement negotiations.

Once such a precedent is established, union chiefs would be emboldened to file more frivolous unfair-labor-practices charges against employers, hoping the NLRB will impose this “new” punishment on their targets.

Meanwhile, Mr. Solomon has filed lawsuits for the NLRB against states for passing state amendments that attempt to guarantee workers a secret-ballot vote. Mr. Solomon claims federal laws pre-empt such measures, but the NLRB has not filed similar actions against other states with laws designed to promote forced unionism, including a California law that threatens workers with fines and even jail time for returning to work during union-boss-ordered strikes.

Just recently, the NLRB proposed new guidelines for quick-snap elections, which amount to little more than a backdoor card-check scheme. Under these new procedures, professional union organizers could spend years secretly collecting “union authorization cards” before acquiring cards from 30 percent of workers in the workplace, just enough to trigger an election within a few days, ambushing the remaining employees and their employer alike before they can share all the relevant facts regarding the costs of union monopoly bargaining.

Largely unnoticed in the new rules for these quickie elections, though perhaps most valuable to union organizers, is a provision requiring companies to hand over the personal contact information of their employees. Almost immediately after union officials file for an election, union organizers must be given the names and addresses and - in an unprecedented requirement - email, telephone and shift information for all employees they seek to unionize.

Armed with such information, union operatives can ramp up their organizing campaign, including “home visits” at times when they know from the shift schedule provided that employees will be home. Union organizers thinking they don’t have the votes to obtain monopoly bargaining status in a secret-ballot vote could then withdraw the election petition but keep workers’ personal contact information and use it to continue an ongoing card-check campaign.

Compounding those problems, the Obama labor board is poised to overturn a key precedent providing a safeguard for workers victimized by the abusive card-check process. Before former Teamster lawyer and current NLRB Chairman Wilma B. Liebman’s term expires at the end of August, the board is expected to overturn the 2007 Dana Corp. precedent, which holds that employees may demand a secret-ballot election to kick out an unwanted union from their workplace within 45 days of notice that their employer recognized the union through card check. Disturbingly, NLRB member Craig Becker (formerly counsel for the Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO) has refused to recuse himself from the current case even though he co-authored a union brief in Dana Corp.

But the list of power grabs pushed by the Obama labor board does not end there: In December, the board approved backroom deals between company and union officials that include limits on employee wages in exchange for card check as not violating the long-standing prohibitions on union pre-recognition bargaining. In proposed rules announced in February, the board also asserted the power to force virtually every employer in America to post a notice informing workers how to unionize but not informing them how to exercise their right to refrain from union activities.

The Boeing case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the workings of the Obama labor board. Its goal of empowering union bosses comes at the expense of individual employees and employers. Congress should rein in the rogue NLRB.

Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee (nrtw.org).

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