The NLRB, for example, on August 22nd closed public comment on a proposed rule change which would drastically alter the time period between when a petition is filed to form a collective bargaining unit and when the actual election takes place. “Quickie” or “ambush” elections would shorten the period of time for union elections from a median of 38 days to as little as 10. This would greatly benefit President Obama’s top political contributor, Big Labor, while punishing small employers and instilling a great deal of concern into the marketplace. Thus far, in just over two months, the rulemaking process has generated tens of thousands of public comments, most of which have been opposed to any change in a process that has worked well and been in place for decades.
What’s more, according to news reports, the NLRB is pushing to issue a decision in a case known as Specialty Healthcare, which deals with the formation of micro-units. If Obama’s regulatory agency decides in favor of union bosses, it would open the floodgates for the formation of small collective bargaining units within workplaces, which threaten dramatically increased costs and complications for employers. It is extremely likely that micro-units would cripple businesses as they would be forced to deal with numerous union elections, and negotiate and apply multiple collective bargaining agreements, which would have a devastating impact on their profitability and put at risk the solvency of many employers.
The NMB, another obscure Federal administrative agency, recently ruled that unions could be formed in the airline and railroad industries with only a majority of those voting as opposed to a majority of those in the workplace. This change in policy undoes nearly a century of precedent that has been in place under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. The end result of this bailout for labor bosses is that more companies will be unionized without the support of a majority of their employees, once again, resulting in more hand wringing and less hiring.
And lastly, the President’s own Department of Labor should have a front row seat as job-killing regulations are discussed this Fall. DoL is threatening to limit the ability of employers to receive legal advice concerning union organizing activities, which some are correctly referring to as a “gag” rule. Overly burdensome and bureaucratic reporting requirements would require employers to report costs, including wages paid, for any internal matter that has the potential to persuade employees regarding union representation. In addition, lawyers and law firms representing businesses would be required to disclose privileged information, ranging from financials to client lists, clearly limiting their availability to employers during union organizing campaigns. This would have a deleterious affect on smaller employers that already have limited access to lawyers. It would leave them exposed to union pressure tactics and, without legal guidance, the possibility of committing labor law violations unintentionally.
As Congress meets to discuss actions that can be undertaken to spur growth and increase productivity, reining in President Obama’s regulatory agencies should be the first item on the agenda. Stopping quickie or ambush elections, preventing micro-units from being formed and prohibiting reporting requirements that effectively shutdown workplace dialogue on unionization would send the message that the Federal government is serious about job creation and the role of small businesses in leading the recovery. There is little hope the Obama Administration will step forward to address their agencies’ job-killing policies as it has repeatedly passed on the opportunity to do so, which means it will fall to the legislative branch to help job creators and put an end to our nation’s economic malaise.