I just read this scary story in the Daily Caller, which confirms my worst fears about the Obama Administration and its relationship to organized labor. About two years ago, I wrote a book length study on behalf of employer organizations called The Case Against the Employee Free Choice Act, which sought to explain the enormous dangers of any efforts to strengthen the statutory protections of labor monopolies.
In working on that book, I was struck by how little success unions had had in winning labor contracts at the bargaining table under a set of stable labor rules that have been tilted in their favor for the past 50 or so years. The gist of the situation is that workers are now keenly aware that the short term promise of union riches often leads to a loss of jobs in an ever more competitive global economy.
The failure of one means of unionization led rise to other tactics, which went beyond traditional forms of picketing (often by people brought in by the union from other places) to include conscious efforts to get involved in matters of corporate governance and shareholder resolutions to filing, often anonymously, complaints against employers that do not want to come to the bargaining table. I regard the second of these activities in particular as an unfair labor practice under the applicable definitions that give broad scope to the notion of what counts as interference and coercion. Indeed when the charges are known to be false, they are just modern versions of old-fashioned defamation in the form of deliberately false statements intended to induce third parties to take hostile actions against the firm.
Bad as private actions of this sort are, it is worse when the government emulates those tactics on labor’s behalf, by relying on the differential enforcement of either overtime of safety laws against those firms that resist union overtures. The risks of selective enforcement make a mockery of the rule of law by permitting government officials who are supposed to be free from bias, agents on behalf of one side in the disputes that come before them.
This form of behavior is all the more reprehensible because it represents a conscious effort of the Obama administration by explicit action to undo one of the central commitments of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which made it clear that the right to organize also included the right not to organize if workers were so inclined. Any effort by the government to distort worker choice in favor of union cronies should lead to the immediate dismissal from office by those individuals who participate in those practices.
What makes this even worse is that the leadership in this movement comes from the White House itself, often by Presidential instruction and even executive orders. There is of course always some play in the joints when it comes to issuing these executive orders and setting state policy. But just as I was deeply upset when the Bush Administration pushed presidential power one step too far in dealing with some national security issues, so too am I upset about how these covert actions are intended to be a form of political payback. It is one thing for the President to write saccharine columns in the Wall Street Journal which talk about becoming a friend to small business. It is another thing to stab them in the back by selective prosecution and investigation for political reasons. For shame.
Originally published at Ricochet.com.