In his testimony today before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Brett McMahon, vice-president of business development for the Miller and Long Company, a construction firm, raises an interesting point. Unions have already been winning over 60 percent of the organization elections that are held. So why does Obama’s team of labor lawyers find it necessary to institute so called “quickie elections.”
In June, the three Democrats who sit on the Board proposed rule changes that would curtail the amount of time for private union elections. Brian Hayes, the only Republican member of the board, has been sharply critical of the proposal, but his input has been limited.
If the rule changes go into effect, they would set elections from a current median time of 37 days to as little as 10 days from the filing of an election petition. They would also set pre-election hearings for 7 days after a petition is filed; the rules would also require the employer to respond to a pre-hearing questionnaire raising any legal issues or waive its right to do so. And finally, the new rules would defer a decision on the issues raised at the hearing till after the election, putting an employer at risk if the decision is challenged.
“The NLRB is making itself a hazard to the economic well being of working people by chilling the entrepreneurial spirit of free enterprise that has brought more prosperity to more people than any other system in human history,” McMahon said in testimony. “It is not now, nor will it ever be, the single catalyst that causes large lay offs or stifles job creation. Rather it is the series of actions that this Board takes that add to the weight that hurts businesses today. Don’t adopt this rule. It is unwise in this economic climate and it is unfair to workers and employers.”
Even without the rule change, America’s business owners are already at a disadvantage McMahon points out.
“Significant regulation already exists to limit the speech of the employer yet no such restrictions exist for union organizers, and there has been no indication that a change such as the one proposed is necessary,” he said. “There is no demand for it other than from pro-union allies. The small employer is nearly hamstrung at the start even if they are aware of an organizing effort. Many employers are not aware of the effort until the organizer presents their cards. Most small businesses do not retain employment counsel. In fact, until the recent headlines, I doubt many small employers had even heard of the NLRB. With all of the challenges in the current economy, it is unreasonable to expect an employer to drop everything and then respond in the potential time frame contemplated by this rule.”
The latest action from the NLRB demonstrates that the Administration is determined to achieve administratively, what could not accomplish legislatively, even with a Democratic Congress.
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