"Micro-Unions" Are A Big Deal To American Employers

Fred Wszolek
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Posted: Mar 22, 2012 11:10 AM
"Micro-Unions" Are A Big Deal To American Employers

In business, much like in most other fields, the person taking risk and branching out to start a new company or hire additional workers looks at his/her books to ensure their finances are in order, but then oftentimes makes a gut decision about how they feel about the likely success of the venture. This is what entrepreneurialism is all about: working hard, measuring success and seeking to prosper further. This cycle is repeated thousands of times every day in our nation as Americans make our economy grow one business at a time.

But the calculations made by these current and future employers largely depend on one variable: certainty. Will the rules of the game change? Are the forces in a particular state capital or Washington stacked against them? Can they have confidence bureaucrats and regulators won’t make it difficult to succeed, much less survive? These are the questions people ask themselves before risking their earnings and savings and that of their families to undertake an endeavor in the marketplace.

President Obama is a well-known basketball fan and it is only appropriate to draw a parallel with the game during March Madness. A point guard needs to know the power forward is going to be on the block before he makes the pass under the basket. His teammate doesn’t actually have to be there when the ball leaves his hands, but he does require the certainty that his fellow player will be there once the ball arrives. One might refer to that as confidence. Without it, that team is unlikely to win. It seems simple to understand and completely logical.

Why then does the Obama Administration continue to advance proposals through an agency stocked with unelected bureaucrats that hurt job creators and spread deep concern and uncertainty among the very employers we need to lift us out of possibly the slowest and most lethargic recovery in our nation’s history?

It simply boggles the mind. It makes zero sense. And it isn’t that the White House doesn’t know what it’s doing; instead, they have decided that they want their cake and eat it too.

First, they reward their friends in Big Labor with decisions by a so-called “independent” labor board that they have stocked with loyal partisans who could not be confirmed in the U.S. Senate; therefore, they simply recess appoint them even though no recess was actually taking place.

Next, having placated for the moment the union bosses who are poised to spend a half billion dollars on the President’s re-election, the White House focuses on the optics. They trot out the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to tell “agencies that they need to work on the front end, with the public and stakeholders, to avoid redundant, conflicting, or overly burdensome requirements.”

Really? While that may make good politics in the Obama Administration, it also makes for disastrous economic policy because it insults the intelligence of every business owner and trade group representing them in Washington, and sends the message that the President’s success at the ballot box is more important than the business owners’ success in the marketplace.

This is exhibited clearly in the administration’s position on the formation of “micro-unions.” The very concept makes people laugh, but they are a serious matter and are forcing more and more businesses, particularly retailers, to simply tighten up and ride out the storm rather than seeking to grow, and yes, hire.

A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows as few as two people to form a unit for collective bargaining. Imagine for a moment you popped into a local hardware store and the employees in the plumbing section were represented by one union, while the employees in the electrical division were represented by another, not to mention the workers in the power tools, flooring, garden and paint departments. Each unit would negotiate its own contract and against the most recent agreement reached with one of the other unions.

Would that encourage job creation? Would that entice employers to invest in expansion as opposed to directing precious resources toward human resource and legal costs? Would it improve your shopping experience and keep prices down? Of course not.

Micro-unions create division, discord and disharmony in the workplace as these little unions would negotiate against one another, while business owners would become entangled in an expensive mess of union red tape and competing demands. That doesn’t create jobs, generate growth or help the economy recover. What it does do is increase union membership rates and the amount of dues collected by labor bosses so they can in turn pump more money into political campaigns to support allies like President Obama.

If the administration is determined to turn around the economy, they should immediately put a stop to “redundant, conflicting, or overly burdensome requirements” as opposed to pretending to do so and sending the message to workers and small businesses they’re not serious about creating jobs.