Ambush Election Vote: Senators Either Stand With Small Business Owners Or Big Labor Bosses

Fred Wszolek

4/17/2012 12:01:00 AM - Fred Wszolek

After a few weeks of recess, Members of Congress will return this week to address a number of issues, including the budget, transportation bill and Buffet Rule. One of the issues that will likely come to a vote in the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks is a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which seeks to reverse a recent regulation promulgated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The change amends workplace election procedures limiting the ability of employers, especially smaller ones, from obtaining the fair representation and legal counsel they need to communicate with employees about the consequences of unionization. The new rule significantly minimizes the amount of time for union elections in private workplaces and deprives workers of their right to make an informed choice free from pressure or intimidation.

All of this comes as the nation continues to struggle and the backbone of America’s economy, small businesses, need greater confidence and certainty about the future. Unfortunately, though, unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. are less concerned with job creation and instead focused on paying back union bosses who were President Obama’s top political contributor in 2008 and have committed more than $400 million in support of his campaign in 2012. In cutting the amount of time for union organizing elections at least in half, Obama’s labor board has taken steps to implement by regulatory fiat the failed Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act, which does not have support in Congress and is adamantly opposed by the American public.

It is a breathtaking overreach that completely ignores the will of both employees and employers. The NLRB, which is stacked with members who have direct ties to Big Labor, decided last year to completely ignore the will of the majority who submitted 65,000 comments largely in opposition to undoing decades of Board law in favor of ambush elections.

Senator Mike Enzi, the author and sponsor of S.J. Res. 36 and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, recently wrote in The Washington Times, “This resolution will not change current law, which allows employees to call an election to persuade their colleagues to agree to form a union. It simply will protect employee privacy and the rights of employers from an aggressive federal agency pushing a pro-labor agenda. Failing to act will leave employers without the ability to comment in a timely manner on union promises or simply have a fair chance to give their side.”

Enzi notes that the NLRB recently released its annual report showing union elections normally only take 38 days, which is below the agency’s goal of 42 days. In fact, 92 percent of elections in the workplace take place in fewer than 56 days. So, it certainly appears the NLRB ambush election rule is not only reckless, but completely unnecessary.

The vote on this matter is of the utmost importance because it will send a signal to citizens whether the rhetoric employed by those seeking office is genuine. Everyone is for jobs. No one is opposed to local small businesses. Yet, how do they vote when legislation is before them that undoes a harmful rule issued by individuals most of whom have never once created a single job, instead they have spent their entire careers working for labor bosses or within government?

Members of the U.S. House and Senate and those seeking office to those bodies can’t have it both ways. Either they stand with employers in their states or they stand with Big Labor bosses in Washington, D.C.

The NLRB’s ruling on ambush elections is so disturbing to most Americans because the issue of unionization is critically important to workers’ livelihoods and they should have the time to make an informed decision. Furthermore, the Board’s own data demonstrates the ruling is a solution in search of a problem. Also, the expedited process makes a mockery of secret ballot elections and saddles business owners – already struggling to keep their heads above water – with additional costs they may not be able to afford. The funds associated with an employer seeking legal counsel to make a fair case to their employees against paid union organizers would have much greater impact on the economy if they were used hire new workers, purchase equipment or expand services.

Also, the reckless ambush election rule follows a long line of job-killing acts on the part of the NLRB, which have traded away hard-earned worker freedoms and rewarded union bosses. Last year, the Board also allowed the creation of “micro-unions,” which are units for the purpose of collective bargaining made up of as few as two or three people. The NLRB decision undid three quarters of a century of American labor law and will result in division, discord and disharmony in the workplace as little unions negotiate against one another, while business owners become entangled in an expensive mess of union red tape and competing demands.

Next, the NLRB is seeking to allow union organizers to obtain the personal contact information of employees during labor elections. This would expose workers to unnecessary coercion and bullying, and given the long history of union boss violence, is simply wrong.

As Senator Enzi noted, the vote on S.J. Res. 36 addresses many of these issues, “Congress soon will have a chance to stop these misguided ideas by approving a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. I introduced this legislation along with 44 of my Senate colleagues. If enacted, this resolution will have the full force of law and roll back these onerous regulations as well as prevent the implementation of any substantially similar ones. In the Senate, only a simple majority is needed to pass this resolution and send a strong, bipartisan message to the NLRB. This agency must understand that its job is to ensure fair elections and a level playing field, not compromise employees’ free choices and privacy to benefit one side over the other.”