High-ranking House Republican calls on President Obama to rein in the NLRB

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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House Education and Workforce committee chairman Rep. John Kline demanded Tuesday that President Barack Obama stop the National Labor Relations Board from moving forward with a pro-union agenda.

In response to three controversial new rulings the NLRB announced late Tuesday, Kline said Obama can “no longer stand idle as his labor board wreaks havoc on the nation’s workforce.”

“With more than 14 million Americans unemployed, it is past time the president denounce the job-destroying actions of the NLRB and begin working with Congress on responsible policies that will put our nation’s workers and job-creators first,” Kline said in a statement.

With the three rulings, Kline said the NLRB “unloaded a barrage of bureaucratic activism that will devastate employees and job creators.”

The first and likely most controversial NLRB ruling overturned a 2007 decision that gave workers nationwide the right to protect themselves from union bosses’ bullying and coercive tactics with secret ballot elections.

Via its newly-decided Lamons Gasket case, the NLRB eliminated the 2007 Dana Corp ruling, which the National Right to Work Foundation said protected workers from “coercive practices” union organizers often use to “bully or mislead employees.”

The Dana Corp. decision allowed workers the opportunity to request a secret ballot election within a 45-day window following a “card-check” organizing effort. Card-check organizing efforts are when union bosses try to get workers they’re targeting to sign cards indicating they want to have a union election.

What union bosses often neglect to tell workers is that if enough workers sign cards, there’s no need for an election. They’d already be unionized.

The NLRB also decided that unionized workers should be forced to wait a “reasonable amount of time” before booting a union after a change of ownership at their shop. The UGL-UNNICO Service Company ruling means employees will have to wait an extended period of time before removing an unwanted union if their company’s ownership changes.

The third ruling also favored unions. It allows for “micro union” organizing at non-acute healthcare facilities.

Micro unions allow labor organizers to section off company employees by specific job descriptions. For example, if a union tried to organize a restaurant staff, leaders would target servers, busboys, dishwashers, cooks and hostesses separately.

Per the NLRB’s ruling, in non-acute healthcare facilities, like nursing homes and other long-term non-critical health facilities, unions can now target each layer of staff with organizing tactics. (RELATED: Outgoing Democratic NLRB chairwoman: Conservatives attacking Board with ‘baseball bat,’ vitriolic rhetoric)

National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons said he sees the NLRB’s recent actions as an attempt to force card check policies through the back door. “This government agency’s decisions demonstrate the agency’s goal of implementing Employee Free Choice Act-like proposals that Congress has not authorized,” Timmons said. “These case decisions take away employers’ flexibility and only create uncertainty in the workplace.”

Kline added that he thinks the NLRB’s latest actions show once again how the board has shifted toward favoring labor unions. He said the board, which has been criticized as of late for being more of an activist organization than a neutral arbiter of labor law, reversed a heap of policy and litigation based precedent in a single swing.

“In one fell blow, the NLRB has overruled years of labor policy in an underhanded scheme designed to please its powerful Big Labor allies,” Kline said. “The decisions handed down will turn workers against coworkers and undermine an employees’ ability to challenge unionization. Adding insult to injury, the NLRB is also advancing a proposal that will stifle an employer’s free speech and undermine an employee’s free choice.”

Timmons says the new rulings “put jobs at risk” and “have a real potential to severely disrupt the workplace.”

“The NLRB has been pursuing an aggressive agenda that will harm our economic growth at a time when manufacturers should be leading the economic recovery,” Timmons said in a statement. “From its proposed ‘ambush elections’ rule to its Boeing complaint, the agency is trying to dictate the way businesses operate, where they operate and how they interact with their employees.”

In response to recent criticism of the NLRB, outgoing Democratic chairwoman Wilma Liebman lashed out at conservatives for using “overheated” rhetoric.

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