The Grinch who stole Christmas has some competition in Washington. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appears determined to steal Thanksgiving from employers and employees.
On Friday the NLRB announced it will vote on November 30 to revamp organizing elections to heavily favor unions.
Currently, unions build support at a company for months before calling for a vote. Management often has no idea that such activity is going on. Once organizers believe they have enough support, they ask the NLRB to conduct a secret-ballot election. Typically the vote occurs five to six weeks after the election petition.
This gives the employer time to make their case. Unsurprisingly, union organizers rarely talk about strike histories, political spending, or corruption within their unions. Nor do they bring up the times their union failed to deliver on campaign promises. The five-week window lets workers hear the strongest arguments from both sides and cast an informed vote.
This system has worked well for decades. Unfortunately for the union movement, however, few workers today want to buy what they are selling. Only one in 10 non-union workers say they want to join a union. As a result, private-sector union membership has slipped below 7 percent.
Rather than reform to become more relevant to today’s workers, unions want to change the rules to make it harder to decline their services. One way to win an election is preventing the other side from campaigning. So President Obama’s appointees on the NLRB have proposed new regulations shortening the time period for elections to as little as 10–14 days (“snap elections”). Employers would have little time to respond to union claims before workers vote. This would greatly facilitate union organizing—but only by depriving workers of valuable information.
However, the NLRB has a problem. Over 65,000 Americans filed comments during the public notice and comment period on this rule. The law requires the NLRB to carefully consider these objections. But Craig Becker’s recess appointment to the NLRB expires at the end of the year, at which point the NLRB can no longer legally function.
So the NLRB is taking extraordinary steps to ensure that snap elections happen before Becker’s term expires. The NLRB announced on Friday that it would vote on a modified regulation on November 30. How it was modified no one outside the NLRB majority knows—not even Brian Hayes, the NLRB’s one Republican member. Presumably it will include only the sections the NLRB has already processed comments on. To ensure that it gets finished by the end of the year, the NRLB has denied Hayes time to write a dissent.
The Obama NLRB is committed to fixing organizing elections in favor of unions—despite the fact that unionized companies create fewer jobs.
The Grinch stole only Christmas presents. The NLRB’s plans would steal jobs.