Congress must protect free enterprise, democracy from union bosses

Mario H. Lopez President, Hispanic Leadership Fund
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Over the last few weeks, much attention has been focused on the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to issue a complaint against Boeing for constructing a facility in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The alarming overreach by the NLRB has shed light on the role of regulatory agencies in government and their affect on the economy.

Boeing wanted to build a second production line of aircraft at its plant in South Carolina, but the NLRB decided that the company’s decision to operate in a right-to-work state constitutes retaliation against the union. The Boeing case is just one example of the NLRB’s desire to place the interests of Big Labor bosses above that of workers and job creators.

The NLRB decided to sue states for daring to defend the secret ballot in union elections. During the course of deciding a case in which neither party brought up the issue of what constitutes an appropriate unit for purposes of union representation and collective bargaining, the NLRB unilaterally decided to take up the issue and in the process rewrote long-standing policy. Never mind that doing so violates the law, which requires conducting a cost-benefit assessment and providing the public with a fair opportunity to comment.

The NLRB under President Obama has continually chosen to advance the interests of the union bosses regardless of how much their decisions defy basic principles of free enterprise and democracy.

While the above issues merit significant attention and scrutiny, we should not lose sight of a critically important matter concerning worker rights and the battle against forced unionization, especially now with the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011.

This legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will now be melded with similar legislation that the Senate passed. A key difference between the two bills is that the House version undoes a rule put in place by yet another regulatory agency, the National Mediation Board (NMB), which upended nearly a century of precedent with regard to workplace elections in the airline and railroad industries.

Before the NMB’s rule change, a simple majority of employees was required to change a workforce’s status and create a collective bargaining unit. But two board members at the regulatory agency with well-established track records of having worked with Big Labor monopolies decided to alter a policy in place since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president in order to tilt the playing field in favor of union bosses.

As a result, the NMB fabricated a new rule that required only a majority of those voting, as opposed to the majority of the entire workforce, to create a collective bargaining unit.

This dangerous policy forms a collective bargaining unit that for all practical purposes cannot be decertified. This is about fundamental fairness — forcing workers into unions, making them pay dues without their consent, and placing caps on the wages they earn is undemocratic and un-American.

Very soon conferees from the House and Senate will come together to resolve any disagreements on the legislation addressing the Federal Aviation Administration, including the provision concerning the NMB’s ruling against airline and railroad workers. With all the well-deserved attention on the NLRB’s egregious actions against employers, we must remain vigilant to ensure both Republican and Democratic conferees negotiating over the FAA Reauthorization legislation hold the line under what is sure to be significant pressure placed on them by union bosses.

Big Labor does not deserve any more bailouts from our government and Congress now has the capability to step in and send the message that enough is enough and it will not allow workers in any industry to be forcibly unionized.

Legislation undoing the NMB’s rule change would be a significant victory for those committed to fairness in the workplace and we must remain committed to achieving that end by communicating with members of Congress who are conferees on this vital piece of legislation.

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