Opinion

Congress can protect workers from Obama’s National Mediation Board

Mario H. Lopez President, Hispanic Leadership Fund

The FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011, which the U.S. House of Representatives will soon be taking up, has put Big Labor on high alert. The legislation seeks to reverse a decision made by the National Mediation Board (NMB) that gives labor bosses the ability to forcibly unionize workers in the airline and railroad industries.

Amidst debate on the bill, union heads are putting pressure on elected officials to defend the NMB decision, which overturned nearly a century of precedent that required a simple majority of workers to vote for unionization in order for an airline or railroad company to be organized. The NMB drastically changed this rule. The new regulation requires only the majority of employees who participate in the vote to support unionization in order for Big Labor to come sweeping in, mandating dues and setting wages and benefits.

This would mean that if 2,000 employees worked at an airline or railroad company, and only 500 of them voted, it would only take the support of 251 employees in a business of 2,000 for the entire business to become unionized.

The possibility for quick elections, intimidation and coercion, and a lack of adequate information for airline and railroad employees is so large in this new scenario that it’s worth examining why the NMB would support such a dramatic shift in long-standing policy.

Simply put, the majority of board members are now Obama appointees whose strings are being pulled by Big Labor bosses. In fact, two of the NMB’s members previously worked for labor unions, raising serious questions about their objectivity. And a third NMD member wrote in a dissent that she was not even briefed on the rule change in any meaningful way before it became law.

And with labor bosses struggling to secure new members and private-sector union membership at an anemic 6.9 percent, Big Labor has been keenly searching for new avenues to increase its revenue and power. New members mean more union dues, and bosses are hungrier for those dues now than ever before as they struggle with their own budget issues, including massive pension liabilities that they currently cannot finance.

After pouring millions of dollars of forced union dues into campaigns to elect the current administration and countless representatives and senators that their membership may not even support, Big Labor bosses now find themselves strapped for the cash they need to fund their political activities and promised worker benefits. As a result, they will do and say anything to gain new members, even if that means pressuring relatively unknown government agencies like the NMB to do their bidding.

As workers around the country express their discontent with Big Labor’s agenda, instead of listening, big union bosses are using regulations to force airline and railroad employees into unions. And all of this is executed by a purported “independent” government agency funded by your tax dollars.

The NMB’s decision to overturn a rule that has been in place since Franklin Roosevelt was president for the sole benefit of Big Labor bosses and their political allies is abhorrent. Congress has the opportunity with the FAA reauthorization bill to restore a rule that protects the rights of workers and keeps a runaway regulatory arm of the Obama administration in check.

Mario H. Lopez is the President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, an advocacy organization dedicated to promoting free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty.