DCPolitics

Wilson: NLRB Not Helping Workers

Of all the federal agencies engaging in “bold, persistent experimentation” with our economy in recent years, U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been among the boldest, most persistent and most experimental. The problem? Its policies haven’t helped American workers (just as Obama’s profligate spending hasn’t “stimulated”…

Of all the federal agencies engaging in “bold, persistent experimentation” with our economy in recent years, U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been among the boldest, most persistent and most experimental.

The problem? Its policies haven’t helped American workers (just as Obama’s profligate spending hasn’t “stimulated” the economy).

The NLRB — which infamously sued aircraft manufacturer Boeing in 2011 for daring to create jobs in a right-to-work state — has become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded attack dog for Big Labor.

What began four years ago with a decision to relax reporting requirements for union bosses (reversing a Bush-era policy aimed at targeting union corruption) has now morphed into a full-fledged war against free enterprise.

Consider the NLRB’s recent rulings against Prime Healthcare Services, a California-based hospital company that was forced to continue collecting union dues even after the expiration of its collective bargaining agreement.

That decision overturned a half-century of legal precedent.

Then there was the agency’s ruling against Kent Hospital — in which the board held employees were no longer permitted to opt out of paying the percentage of union dues spent on political activity.

Not only that, the same ruling removed language requiring unions to provide employees with an accounting of what they spend on political activity.

These are just a few of the egregious pro-labor rulings issued by Obama’s NLRB since the 2012 election. In fact according to Reuters, “management lawyers said labor scored so many wins from the NLRB in the closing weeks of 2012 that they refer to the period as ‘the December massacre.'”

Obama is doing everything within his power to keep the massacre going, too — ignoring a recent Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals ruling that invalidated his 2012 recess appointments to this rogue agency.

Astounding, isn’t it? Despite being ruled unconstitutional, Obama’s appointments continue doing the bidding of their union bosses.

“The appointees to the NLRB remain in their jobs and the NLRB remains open for business,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in response to the ruling, speaking as if he owned the agency (which for all intents and purposes, he does).

But behind the headline-grabbing contempt Obama and his union backers continue to show for American jobs — and the rule of law — there is also a daily disregard for the taxpayers who fund this agency.

Consider the case of Bert Pearlston, an NLRB attorney who makes $141,726 a year — or more than $100,000 above the national median salary of $40,300.

Or take Steven Sloper, an NLRB labor examiner who makes $116,240 a year.

What do Pearlston and Sloper do?

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Americans for Limited Government, both of these government employees work exclusively for the unions — not the taxpayers.

“These are employees whose official job is to handle internal NLRB union activities exclusively, rather than carrying out any of the NLRB’s official responsibilities,” ALG’s website NetRightDaily reports.

In other words they are being paid by taxpayers to work for the union.

These full-time salaries are in addition to the $510,000 the NLRB pays other federal employees to do “part time” union work — a growing problem within the federal government.

According to a recent Breitbart report, government employees spent 3.4 million hours on “union representational activities” in FY 2011 — costing taxpayers $155.7 million.

This figure represented a 10 percent  increase from FY 2010, and leading the way with the highest per capita use of official time was — you guessed it — the NLRB.

There’s a reason for Obama’s “boldness” and “persistence” on behalf of his union allies. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership declined again in 2012 — even as jobs were added to the economy.

As usual, government is the only thing keep Big Labor in business — with 35.9 percent of the public sector unionized compared to just 6.6 percent of the private sector.

Those are bleak statistics — and Obama knows it.

Faced with private sector extinction, organized labor is making a radical push to reclaim its relevance using our tax dollars — at the expense of our economy.

Yet rather than stand up for the workers who are being exploited in this process, Obama is flaunting the rule of law to appease his corrupt Big Labor bosses.

That’s why those of us who support free enterprise must stand against future funding for the NLRB until it is reformed.

Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government. Follow him on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG. This column – reprinted with permission – originally appeared in Investor’s Business Daily.

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6 comments

jim3k March 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Wow. It’s hard to believe that Bill Wilson could pack so much misinformation into such a short column.

Wilson accuses the Obama NLRB (which during most of Obama’s tenure has included GOP and Bush appointees or has been hamstrung by the failure of the Senate to process appointments) as boldly experimenting with the economy. Such a claim is pure
balderdash. The NLRB’s enabling statute does not have anything to do with the economy. It is an agency which conducts free elections allowing employees to choose whether they want union representation. It also prosecutes employers and unions for conduct which interferes with that free choice. It plays no role whatsoever in economic policy.

Wilson claims that the Board hasn’t helped workers, just as Obama’s spending hasn’t helped stimulate the economy. Frankly, this assertion borders on the nutty. First, it is clear that the Bush-Obama stimulation policies prevented the Nation from another Great
Depression, so Wilson’s ‘factual’ analogy is wrong in the first place. Second, claiming that the Board’s policies haven’t helped employees is a fairly empty comment. The Board is not designed to help employees economically. The statute under which the Board operates simply allows for workers to use collective means to improve their lot as they see fit—through collective bargaining by their own representative. Whether they improve their lot or not is up to them—the NLRB doesn’t judge that—and has never judged that since the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935, 78 years ago.

As for the Boeing case, the complaint never had anything to do with Boeing’s creation of jobs in a right to work state. It was aimed at stealing jobs from an existing bargaining unit in Washington State and moving them to South Carolina without properly bargaining with the union representing the Washington workers. It was a classic runaway shop complaint—one which was authorized by the Supreme Court in a case from 1965 and a type of case the Board has decided since the 1930s. From a legal standpoint there was
nothing unusual. Boeing and South Carolina caterwauled about it but eventually settled the case on terms originally proposed by the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel. The Board itself never even saw the case.

As for “union bosses” (in democratic unions is there such a thing?) being required to make reports so union corruption can be tracked, the NLRB, as an independent agency, has no authority in that field. That is done by the Department of Labor. So, contrary to Wilson’s assertion, the NLRB changed nothing because it was not empowered to do so in the first place. How that morphs into a full-fledged war against free enterprise as Wilson claims is beyond understanding. Wilson just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

As for the case which changed the long-standing “rule” that union dues which were compulsory during the term of the CBA but not compelled during a hiatus between contracts, that change came about due to court disapproval of the rule as being inconsistent with the bar against unilateral changes during such hiatuses. In effect, it was done because the courts urged the Board to do away with the dues exception to the general rule. So the change did not originate with the Board.

As for the Kent Hospital case, Wilson has entirely misread it. The Board did not, as Wilson
claims, hold that employees could no longer opt out of paying for the union’s
political activity. It did say, as it has since Beck, that lobbying for workplace protection issues is part of a union’s core representation duty, so employee dues can be used for such a purpose. But the Kent ruling is not a change; it simply applied existing law. In addition, in Kent, the Board applied existing law concerning the accounting aspect of how a union determines the percentage of dues which can be deducted because that percentage doesn’t go to representational expenses. There simply was no change. In fact, the Acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon—the so-called pro-union prosecutor—chose to prosecute the union in order to expand union accounting requirements for better transparency and improved employee understanding, but Solomon lost as the Board declined the opportunity and let the law stand as it was. (Mr. Solomon in fact is not pro-union; he is a long-time labor relations professional whose only “client” has been the National Labor Relations Act.)

Wilson accuses the Board and Obama of making astounding changes and engaging in astounding unconstitutional behavior—but Wilson’s willful ignorance is far more astounding. Nearly everything he says in this piece is untrue. If he had presented it as a college-level labor law paper, his professor would give him a failing grade. No one should believe a word he said in this article. It’s just incompetent.

Then, almost irrationally, Wilson goes after federal employees who have volunteered to serve as union representatives. These people are not paid union employees but must fit in their union work while doing their regular federal jobs. Usually the time spent on union business is negotiated with their agency.

Wilson claims that two NLRB staff members work “exclusively” for the unions. But his statement is incorrect. He’s relying on material gleaned from a FOIA request, one which has, as Media Matters observes, been cherry picked to support an ideological claim. The media Matters report is here: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/01/how-the-conservative-media-cherry-picked-false/192853 And, it turns out, the two NLRB
staffers only charge off about 1/3 of their time to union business—meaning they
do not work exclusively for the union on their federal salary. Moreover, the overall amount of union work for the agencies surveyed turns out to be only about 0.19% of their salaried time—a miniscule amount.

The truth is, Wilson doesn’t know what he’s talking about and his op-ed article is terribly misleading.

Jim3K — who’s been a professional in the field for almost 45 years

Reply
jim3k March 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Wow. It’s hard to believe that Bill Wilson could pack so much misinformation into such a short column.

Wilson accuses the Obama NLRB (which during most of Obama’s tenure has included GOP and Bush appointees or has been hamstrung by the failure of the Senate to process appointments) as boldly experimenting with the economy. Such a claim is pure
balderdash. The NLRB’s enabling statute does not have anything to do with the economy. It is an agency which conducts free elections allowing employees to choose whether they want union representation. It also prosecutes employers and unions for conduct which interferes with that free choice. It plays no role whatsoever in economic policy.

Wilson claims that the Board hasn’t helped workers, just as Obama’s spending hasn’t helped stimulate the economy. Frankly, this assertion borders on the nutty. First, it is clear that the Bush-Obama stimulation policies prevented the Nation from another Great
Depression, so Wilson’s ‘factual’ analogy is wrong in the first place. Second, claiming that the Board’s policies haven’t helped employees is a fairly empty comment. The Board is not designed to help employees economically. The statute under which the Board operates simply allows for workers to use collective means to improve their lot as they see fit—through collective bargaining by their own representative. Whether they improve their lot or not is up to them—the NLRB doesn’t judge that—and has never judged that since the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935, 78 years ago.

As for the Boeing case, the complaint never had anything to do with Boeing’s creation of jobs in a right to work state. It was aimed at stealing jobs from an existing bargaining unit in Washington State and moving them to South Carolina without properly bargaining with the union representing the Washington workers. It was a classic runaway shop complaint—one which was authorized by the Supreme Court in a case from 1965 and a type of case the Board has decided since the 1930s. From a legal standpoint there was
nothing unusual. Boeing and South Carolina caterwauled about it but eventually settled the case on terms originally proposed by the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel. The Board itself never even saw the case.

As for “union bosses” (in democratic unions is there such a thing?) being required to make reports so union corruption can be tracked, the NLRB, as an independent agency, has no authority in that field. That is done by the Department of Labor. So, contrary to Wilson’s assertion, the NLRB changed nothing because it was not empowered to do so in the first place. How that morphs into a full-fledged war against free enterprise as Wilson claims is beyond understanding. Wilson just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

As for the case which changed the long-standing “rule” that union dues which were compulsory during the term of the CBA but not compelled during a hiatus between contracts, that change came about due to court disapproval of the rule as being inconsistent with the bar against unilateral changes during such hiatuses. In effect, it was done because the courts urged the Board to do away with the dues exception to the general rule. So the change did not originate with the Board.

As for the Kent Hospital case, Wilson has entirely misread it. The Board did not, as Wilson
claims, hold that employees could no longer opt out of paying for the union’s
political activity. It did say, as it has since Beck, that lobbying for workplace protection issues is part of a union’s core representation duty, so employee dues can be used for such a purpose. But the Kent ruling is not a change; it simply applied existing law. In addition, in Kent, the Board applied existing law concerning the accounting aspect of how a union determines the percentage of dues which can be deducted because that percentage doesn’t go to representational expenses. There simply was no change. In fact, the Acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon—the so-called pro-union prosecutor—chose to prosecute the union in order to expand union accounting requirements for better transparency and improved employee understanding, but Solomon lost as the Board declined the opportunity and let the law stand as it was. (Mr. Solomon in fact is not pro-union; he is a long-time labor relations professional whose only “client” has been the National Labor Relations Act.)

Wilson accuses the Board and Obama of making astounding changes and engaging in astounding unconstitutional behavior—but Wilson’s willful ignorance is far more astounding. Nearly everything he says in this piece is untrue. If he had presented it as a college-level labor law paper, his professor would give him a failing grade. No one should believe a word he said in this article. It’s just incompetent.

Then, almost irrationally, Wilson goes after federal employees who have volunteered to serve as union representatives. These people are not paid union employees but must fit in their union work while doing their regular federal jobs. Usually the time spent on union business is negotiated with their agency.

Wilson claims that two NLRB staff members work “exclusively” for the unions. But his statement is incorrect. He’s relying on material gleaned from a FOIA request, one which has, as Media Matters observes, been cherry picked to support an ideological claim. The media Matters report is here: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/01/how-the-conservative-media-cherry-picked-false/192853 And, it turns out, the two NLRB
staffers only charge off about 1/3 of their time to union business—meaning they
do not work exclusively for the union on their federal salary. Moreover, the overall amount of union work for the agencies surveyed turns out to be only about 0.19% of their salaried time—a miniscule amount.

The truth is, Wilson doesn’t know what he’s talking about and his op-ed article is terribly misleading.

Jim3K — who’s been a professional in the field for almost 45 years

Reply
chickenoregg March 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Wow! don’t think I am going to waste my time reading something by Bill Wilson again.

Reply
chickenoregg March 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Wow! don’t think I am going to waste my time reading something by Bill Wilson again.

Reply
Bill Sherman March 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Amerika’s labor unions need the Federal Government to support them more then ever,All the $$$$ they give the President and Democratic Party must be repaid one or another.

Reply
Bill Sherman March 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Amerika’s labor unions need the Federal Government to support them more then ever,All the $$$$ they give the President and Democratic Party must be repaid one or another.

Reply

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