Tilting the Field

Sometime this year, the three-member National Labor Relations Board will issue new rules making it easier for labor unions to do what they have been unable to do recently: win support in workplaces.

Under the proposed rules, employers would be forced to call for union elections in as few as 10 days after a petition is filed requesting a vote. Currently, the process takes an average of 38 days.

The other rule change – one much worse – would require a company to provide union officials with a list of company employees, including phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, and the workers’ schedules.

This is not only a major invasion of privacy it would, if allowed, give union supporters ample opportunity to harass and threaten workers into voting for union representation. This has already happened in Washington state, where the NLRB regional office charged a union with destruction of property and threatening the families of company employees. It also happened in Missouri, where union organizers were charged with following and making threats to construction company workers and their families.

According to Fred Wszolek, with the Workforce Fairness Institute, an advocate organization, these new regulations likely will go into effect with little change. “Certainly some parts of the proposed rule will be changed at the margin,” he said in a report. “But it seems very likely that going forward, union organizing elections will happen much more quickly and more private contact information of employees will be turned over to unions.”

Supporters of unions were reeling in the wake of a recent union election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Because the union was welcomed by company owners, it was widely believed the United Auto Workers would win and gain its first victory in the South, where many auto and other plants have moved during the past several years because of right-to-work laws. But workers voted no. The UAW cried foul and appealed, charging there must have been intimidation by the governor and U.S. Senators. A hearing schedule for this past Monday was abruptly canceled when the UAW dropped its appeal and the workers’ vote was certified.

Unions have had little success in recent years, especially in the growing industrial South. Rather than accept their losses, labor unions have sought to tilt the playing field in their favor. By appointing labor advocates to the NLRB, which is supposed to be an umpire, not a promoter, the Obama administration seems more than willing to help them do so. What a shock it will be to them when even these assists are not enough to abandon their right-to-work freedoms.