Tag: labor law

President Makes Nominations to Labor Board Amid Increased NLRB Activism

This week President Obama nominated two individuals to serve on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Lafe Solomon, who has been serving as the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel, was picked to be General Counsel and Terrence Flynn, chief counsel to NLRB member Brian Hayes, was nominated to become the fifth member of the five member board. Should Flynn be confirmed, he would join Hayes as the second Republican on the Board.

While it’s unclear how soon these nominations will be considered by the Senate, the confirmation hearings do provide the Senate with an opportunity to review much of the recent NLRB activity that has so alarmed employers. The Board is slated to make decisions in many key cases, including Lamons Gasket Company, which addresses issues with card check certification, and Roundy’s, dealing with workplace access for union organizers. In addition, the Board has already begun the process of proposing new rulemaking that seeks to make sweeping changes to employee relations by requiring employers to post a notice to employees of their right to unionize. Board Member Hayes has expressed the view that the NLRB lacks the necessary authority to propose this rulemaking, which would require employers to display posters of union rights as well as in some cases make employers distribute such a notice to employees through e-mail.

The National Association of Manufacturers has long been troubled that the current NLRB, which includes the controversial Craig Becker, intends to bend its authority to implement the goals of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act, skewing the balance of labor relations towards labor unions. The changes sought by the NLRB produce a tremendous amount of uncertainty for employers, which in turn threatens jobs creation and the economic recovery.

We hope that the Senate uses the confirmation process to fully review the Board’s recent action – and makes it clear that the NLRB should not seek to change U.S. labor law without the necessary Congressional action.

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Labor Board Allows Will of the Few to Dictate Terms for the Many

This morning the National Mediation Board (NMB) has issued a new rule to overhaul the way labor unions are formed by employees covered by the Railway Labor Act. We are still in the process of reviewing and analyzing this meaty proposal, but it’s clear this final rule radically overhauls 75 years of established federal labor law so union organizers can organize transportation employees more easily.

As we’ve noted previously, the NMB sped through a proposed rule at the end of last year at the behest of labor leaders with scant legitimate policy justification. This proposal would allow labor organizers to create labor unions in the transportation sector without the support of the majority of workers who would be included in the union. Instead, this proposal would allow only a simple majority of employees who participate in the union representation election to form a labor union that would represent the entire bargaining unit.

Katie Packer who heads up the Workforce Fairness Institute explained the proposal: “Assuming that anyone not casting a ballot is, in fact, in favor of abdicating their own right to negotiate with their employer and allowing a union to represent them is undemocratic and deplorable.”

The NAM agrees. In January we responded to the NMB’s proposal with formal comments. We expressed concern over the impact that this disruptive approach to union representation would have on our nation’s critical transportation operations as well as the dangerous precedent that it sets for changes at other federal labor boards. Many Senators objected that President Obama’s nominees to the National Mediation Board sought to overturn federal labor laws by fiat just weeks after their confirmation hearings, where nominees vowed to go slow on any radical legal changes. This disturbing (and by appearances, duplicitous) approach to administering U.S. labor laws made several Senators uneasy during the nomination process for Craig Becker. Senators Enzi and Isakson warned that the President’s nominee for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) make seek to engage in similar efforts at the NLRB.

The manner in which this very expansive policy change was developed is highly questionable. Mike Eastman at the U.S. Chamber also highlights how the NMB ran roughshod in proposing, developing and implementing this regulation. If this change had legitimate merits, the process for which it was promulgated would have been more deliberative and allowed consideration of comments put forth by stakeholders.

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Manufacturers United in Their Opposition to NLRB Nominee

More than 550 manufacturing employers and organizations have urged Senators to oppose the controversial nomination of Craig Becker to the powerful National Labor Relations Board.

In the letter distributed Monday, manufacturers expressed their concerns with Mr. Becker’s views to limit employers’ ability to communicate with their employees regarding union organizing efforts. Under current law, employers’ rights to communicate with their employees are protected so long as the speech does not contain a “threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.” However, Becker has expressed support for severely restricting employers’ free speech rights through quicksnap elections, and bans on meeting with their employees, among other steps.

From the letter:

The nomination of Mr. Becker poses a threat to our labor law system, as his views and interpretation of labor law would radically change the nature of the NLRB. In numerous academic journals and other writings, Mr. Becker has espoused views that indicate he believes the NLRB has the authority to make certain decisions that are pending in proposed legislation. Such views would limit employers’ ability to communicate with their employees regarding union organizing efforts and would promote a system of adversarial employee relations. Based on his previous statements, we feel Mr. Becker would direct the NLRB to rewrite current union election rules in favor of union organizers, a decision that should be left to Congress. In particular, we are concerned that Mr. Becker would use the actions of the NLRB to advance aspects of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act.

As employers, we feel that members of the NLRB should be unbiased and committed to the principles of fairness and balance that have developed our labor law system. Mr. Becker’s radical interpretation of these laws is not appropriate for members of the Board, who are charged with administering our nation’s labor laws in an unbiased manner. 

If Becker is confirmed and his beliefs are executed through NLRB actions the group that would be most harmed wouldn’t be employers, it would be employees themselves. Employees would lose the opportunity to be fully informed about the labor union that has filed a petition to be their exclusive representative for representation in collective bargaining.

Mr. Becker’s views go exactly counter to their policy of the NAM that has been previously stated in a letter to Senate HELP Committee members:

The NAM firmly believes employees should have access to information from both employers and union officials and the ability to carefully review that information in order to better make important decisions that impact their jobs and families.

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