Congress Takes Important Steps To Rein In Rogue Agency

Fred Wszolek
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Posted: Oct 04, 2011 12:01 AM

Sometimes extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And that is true regarding the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its job-killing assault against workers and small businesses across the country.

Once elected, it was reasonably anticipated that President Obama would seek to advance the interests of the union bosses who bankrolled his campaign for office. No one expected, however, that he would allow organized labor to call the shots at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the head of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) even bragging that he speaks with someone from the White House every day, including weekends.

Yet, that’s exactly what has taken place. The administration has bent over backwards to reward Big Labor at the expense of employees and employers. The giveaways have been so breathtaking and extreme it is fair to say that Obama has done more to reward union bosses than any president in modern history.

As a result, a co-equal branch of government has been forced to step forward and defend the interests of job creators in the worst economy since the Great Depression. This has required the Congress to pursue legislation limiting the ability of unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch to payback Big Labor with policies that threaten the ability of our economy to recover.

Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed – in a bipartisan fashion – the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587). The legislation prevents the government from dictating to American companies where they can do business and create jobs. The bill is a necessary response to the incredible overreach on the part of the NLRB, which is seeking to tell the Boeing Company it could not open a second production facility in the right-to-work state of South Carolina; all such work had to be done in it unionized facilities in Washington State.

Next, Congress is using its appropriations authority to prevent the NLRB from over-spending and from using taxpayer dollars to enforce recent decisions that hurt workers and small businesses, and damage our ability to create jobs.

Just this past week, the House Appropriations Committee issued its 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill. In it, the committee seeks to make reasonable cuts to this over-funded agency, which in fiscal year 2010 had a budget surplus on a substantially smaller appropriation. And while Big Labor’s supporters in Congress will balk, the Inspector General of the NLRB recently issued a report that it was time the agency stopped operating at an unnecessarily high spending level because of significant reductions in agency business. He recommended it “consolidate offices, get out of high rent office space and eliminate overstaffing.”

The House funding bill also disallows Obama’s labor board from punishing small businesses with its activist and burdensome regulatory actions. It prohibits the NLRB from instituting the forced unionization of employees and employers through the formation of micro-units, elimination of the secret ballot, introduction of ambush elections and establishment of electronic voting.

Public polling supports these Congressional actions with large majorities siding with Boeing in its dispute with the NLRB. Even a majority of union workers agreed the company should be able to open its facility where it saw fit. And most Americans believe the regulatory overreach on the part of the Obama Administration is hurting job creation, and they disapprove of it.

But this is not Congress’ only action to reign in a regulatory agency run amok. Recently, the House voted on legislation undoing a rule change sought by labor bosses that made organizing easier in the airline and railroad industries. For nearly a century, the support of a majority of workers was required to form a collective bargaining unit in our transportation industries. Yet, a little known agency named the National Mediation Board (NMB) changed the rule so that only a majority of those voting is now needed.

This will allow unions to focus attention on a small group of workers and increase unionization in our transportation sector with less than a majority vote. This forced unionization of workers is inconsistent with the former rule that has been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike and in place since Franklin Delano Roosevelt resided in the White House.

As President Obama seeks re-election, we can only expect he will continue to pursue measures that encourage labor bosses to make investments in his campaign. In the process, he will trade freedom and jobs for another four years in the Oval Office.

It is necessary and appropriate for the legislative branch of our government to respond and place a check on the executive branch’s reckless approach to policymaking. We urge Senate leadership to support these legislative efforts that will send a message to businesses that their government will not continue to work against them as they seek to create jobs and turn our economy around.