The Time Has Come For Congress to Rein in Obama Labor Board

Fred Wszolek

4/10/2013 2:25:00 PM - Fred Wszolek

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is slated to vote on the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120) in an effort to rein a federal agency that has caused immeasurable harm to workers and the business community with its ill-conceived and biased decisions and rulings. The legislation would address the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which serves to handle discrepancies between businesses and labor organizations in the private sector.

Since President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 the Board has served as a vehicle for labor bosses to seek and receive preferential treatment over America’s employers. This has become even more pronounced since the demise of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This legislation – commonly known as card check – would have eviscerated secret ballot protections afforded to workers when engaging in a union election, as well as empower government to mandate contracts on employees and employers alike once a collective bargaining unit had been formed and an agreement had not been reached between the two parties in a short amount of time.

This legislation was as unnecessary as it was damaging to the economy. An economic study found that EFCA would have resulted in the loss of at least 600,000 jobs in the first year alone. Card check ultimately died as it failed to engender sufficient support among the President’s own party and was universally opposed by Republicans. Today, the legislation is so reviled, it has not been introduced in Congress, and there is zero chance it could become law.

With the loss of their dream legislation, and after giving nearly one billion dollars in campaign support to President Obama and his allies in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Big Labor bosses have been very clear they expect “payback.” And it has come in the form of a so-called independent agency, which has become known as Obama’s Labor Board. This is not an assumption; instead, it is a fact derived directly from organized labor. In 2010, Stewart Acuff, a “special assistant” to President Richard Trumka wrote in The Huffington Post, “It [sic] we aren’t able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action…”

Since then, the NLRB has reached decisions that have harmed the ability of businesses to operate and hire, injected uncertainty into the marketplace, and negatively impacted the country as we continue to struggle mightily to recover from the Great Recession. For instance, the NLRB enacted a rule allowing for “ambush” elections which rush the collective bargaining process so significantly that workers cannot carefully consider arguments from both the business owner and labor organizer, while employers are severely restricted in their ability to provide information to their own workers. The Obama Labor Board also issued a decision which authorized the formation of “micro-unions” or small collective bargaining units made up of employees within one place of work. The decision only serves one discernible purpose: allow labor bosses to gain a foothold into workplaces they would not otherwise be able to as the majority of workers oppose the formation of a union.

With all this anti-business activity hosted in one agency, employees and employers were rightfully concerned, but anxiety turned into dismay when President Obama bypassed the U.S. Senate and tossed aside the advice and consent clause within the U.S. Constitution and made recess appointments to the NLRB while the Congress was convening in pro-forma sessions. Job creators knew the purpose, to continue to reward his largest political benefactor, but the President swore an oath to the constitution and was bound by it, as well as the system of checks and balances.

Therefore, when Obama’s NLRB reached a judgment against a Yakima-based beverage bottler in Washington State named Noel Canning, the legal route was pursued with the company arguing the order was invalid as the Board did not have a proper and legal quorum. And on January 25th, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with the business and found that the so-called recess appointments made by President Obama were unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the Board did not get the message. In fact, its chairman issued a statement shortly after the court reached its decision stating the federal agency was not bound by it. That has left Congress with no other alternative outside restricting these out-of-control bureaucrats and asserting its influence over the rogue agency. The solution put forward by legislators – the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act – would temporarily prevent the Board from taking actions which require a quorum, meaning at least three members, until such time as the Senate confirms appointees to the federal agency, the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Noel Canning v. NLRB, or the first session of the 113th Congress adjourns, which will signify the conclusion of the terms of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, the “recess” appointees in question.

The time has come for Congress to step in and address the actions of an administration that disregards the will of both the legislature and judiciary, both of which are co-equal branches of government. Members of Congress interested in standing up for the workers and businesses in their districts will vote in favor of the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act.