During this past election cycle, labor unions invested over $200 million in support of Democrat candidates. Much of that money came from four of the country’s largest unions: the AFL-CIO and SEIU’s combined contribution was $88 million, AFSCME added $91 million and the National Education Association $40 million. This money was donated to Democrat candidates in hopes of helping them maintain a majority in the House. These hopes were crushed on November 2nd when the Republicans took back control of the House with a resounding win. This loss has effectively ended the unions’ dream of getting the Employee Free Choice Act (card check) enacted in the near future.
In order to repay the unions for their support, President Obama stacked the National Labor Relations Board with pro-union members. The NLRB, which consists of a chair and four members, is a quasi-judicial body that decides cases on the basis of formal records. This past spring, the president used his recess appointment powers to appoint two new members to the board: Mark Gaston Pearce (who ended up being confirmed by the Senate in June) and Craig Becker (still unconfirmed). Both are lawyers who have previously represented unions. Becker has served as the associate general counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. Pearce was a founding partner of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux, where he practiced union-side labor and employment law before state and federal courts and agencies. Wilma B. Liebman, a Clinton appointee who is the chairman of the NLRB, also has strong union affiliations. Liebman was labor counsel for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen from 1990 to 1993; she also served as legal counsel to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for nine years. The five-member NLRB now has a decidedly pro-union tilt.
Much as the EPA is working to enact cap and trade, the NLRB is working to enact regulations that are favorable for unions. It appears that the NLRB’s first goal will be to reduce the time period needed to organize a union election from the current 30-40 days to 5-10 days. This shortened time period — which starts once an employer is notified of union activities — will hinder the ability of employers to counter union propaganda. The unions will of course have been working under the radar for weeks if not months prior to the official announcement of its intention to organize.
This is only one of the ways that the NLRB is looking to strengthen unions. The Labor Relations Council points out two other issues (here and here) that have come before the board and whose rulings favor unions — issues that would have been addressed if card check had passed.
Once again it appears that President Obama is doing an end run around the Constitution in order to implement policies that have been rejected by the people’s representatives. The executive branch is slowly grasping more power than the founders had ever intended it to have and the House and Senate are standing by while this happens.
William Hay is the executive director of Small Business Freedom.