With House Passage, Time For Senate To Act On Labor Legislation

Fred Wszolek

12/5/2011 2:58:00 PM - Fred Wszolek

Last week, the U.S. House passed the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, legislation which reins in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). With a 235-188 bipartisan vote, the message was sent to President Obama that his unelected bureaucrats are not doing the bidding of Big Labor bosses without Congress stepping in and acting.

Now that the House has spoken, it is time for the U.S. Senate to do the same. With all the talk on Capitol Hill about jobs and economic recovery, Senators have a chance to put their money where their mouth is by supporting legislation which will disallow job-killing mandates such as “quickie” or “ambush” elections and the formation of “micro-units” (collective bargaining units with as few as two or three people that will splinter the workforce and were only created for the purpose of allowing union bosses to gain a foothold in a business).

With so many targeted Senate races in 2012, a vote in the upper chamber on the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act would be consequential in that it would allow citizens to know whether their Senators seeking re-election have placed their interests above labor’s. Also, with passage, the legislation would be sent to President Obama forcing him to make clear whether his economic intentions are genuine or nothing more than rhetoric. While I have little doubt both Obama and some of Big Labor’s supporters in the Senate would turn their backs on workers and small businesses as they seek big dollar donations from union bosses, it would be useful to get them on the record once and for all.

The arguments against common sense legislation, namely the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, are hard to come by. Obama’s labor board has proposed shortening the window for union elections from a median time of 38 days to as little as 10. The rule is anti-worker and anti-business. It would deprive the employer of a meaningful opportunity to express its views on unionization, and its employees the right to hear those views and make an informed choice. Due to the massive volume of comments the NLRB has received in opposition to this rule change they are seeking to jam through a variation of it, but the end result is largely the same, forcing workers into unions.

It’s amazing to think that the same politicians who go out and seek votes saying both sides should have the opportunity to make their arguments heard before Election Day would consider relinquishing that same basic right from employees and employers.

At its core, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act ensures that free speech of both workers and businesses are maintained and unionization is not crammed down our throats in an effort to fatten Big Labor’s coffers.

Secondly, the House-passed bill will ensure that NLRB-approved “micro-units” are not allowed to be formed as they would create a proliferation of units, which would balkanize an employer with multiple interest groups represented by different unions with different goals. The result would be work stoppages and employees drawn into disputes in which they have no interest. The multiplicity of units would dramatically increase an employer’s labor relations costs as it would have to negotiate and apply multiple collective bargaining agreements.

It is virtually impossible to argue with any intellectual honesty that either “quickie” elections or “micro-units” would create a single job. Instead, they would place additional burdens on businesses resulting in lost jobs and closures.

Therefore, job creators must not be shy about pressing leaders in the Senate to demonstrate whether they support policies that encourage economic growth and investment or whether their political allegiance rests with Big Labor and their campaign dollars. There is no middle ground here and we hope the U.S. Senate will send a very clear message to Americans which takes precedence.