Katie Gage

In a democracy, the will of the voter is the ultimate mandate. Those elected to public office are the servants to the electorate, and by extension, this is true for the bureaucrats appointed and nominated by those same officials.

But all of this seems to be lost upon the members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Whether it’s the board chairman, Wilma Liebman who previously worked for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters or Craig Becker who was previously on the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) payroll, their allegiance appears to be with union bosses, not the American people.

What has become abundantly clear is that the NLRB serves as an advocacy arm of Big Labor, instead of an independent agency charged with administering to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). It is difficult to read anything else into the activist conduct now stemming from the little known agency.

Recently, in spite of the fact that the secret ballot is part of our history and revered in free societies, the NLRB has seen fit to threaten states with legal action for defending it. These bureaucrats seem to forget that they were nominated by and serve under a President who won election on a secret ballot vote and their agency is overseen by a Congress whose members are elected with private balloting.

Furthermore, their actions seem to contradict the words and sentiments expressed by President Obama, just this week. In an op-ed published in

The Wall Street Journal, Obama wrote, “Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business – burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

In threatening to sue Arizona, Utah, South Dakota and South Carolina for passing amendments

to their constitutions guaranteeing the right to a secret ballot in union elections, the NLRB is ignoring the will of the voter and rigidly adhering to the demands of Big Labor.

Union bosses have been unambiguous concerning what they expect from the NLRB. Last year, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka’s right hand operative, Stewart Acuff wrote, “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...”

And just as there is a great degree of clarity with regard to the NLRB’s motivations, there is an equal amount of transparency with respect to where voters stand. In South Dakota, for instance, over 79% of people supported the secret ballot amendment. In South Carolina, that number grew to 86.2%. And in both Arizona and Utah, the measures passed with significant majorities with more than six in ten supporting.

Few – if any initiatives – are able to gain the endorsement of eight or nine out of ten people, but support for the secret ballot did just that.

And that leads to the question, why is the NLRB actively undermining the expressed will of the voters in these states?

It comes back to the ideology of labor radicals like Becker who believe bosses – not workers – should have the say in whether a workplace is unionized. The best known iteration of this idea is the job-killing Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA) where voting would be done without any privacy by signing a public petition card exposing workers to intimidation and coercion.

The NLRB’s actions are the equivalent of a Big Labor bail out and demonstrate complete disregard for the intentions of Americans attempting to protect basic rights, while also working to weather a very challenging economy. Preventing states from protecting their workers sets the precedent and lays the foundation for passing card check through the bureaucracy’s backdoor, which the agency has already demonstrated significant interest in accomplishing.

The voters in Arizona, Utah, South Dakota and South Carolina have spoken. The members of the NLRB should ask themselves who they work for, the American people or Big Labor bosses?


Katie Gage

Katie Gage is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness institute.