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Labor Relations Insight by Phillip Wilson: Let’s get ready to rumble….

Today I feel a bit like a ring-side announcer. The NLRB held its meeting on the proposed “ambush election” rulemaking. Here are the highlights from the meeting:

  • Member Hayes says he is not going to resign from the Board. He believes resigning will further impair the Board’s already diminished credibility. He feels that it would be hypocritical to use a procedural maneuver to protest what he feels is an improper procedural maneuver on the other side. One can only hope that the other members are inspired by his example. Based on how Chairman Pearce closed the meeting, we will have to assume that so far nobody is planning to follow Hayes’ example.
  • Member Pearce (in one of those unfortunate “is this thing on?” moments) said that he’d be “cracking the whip” to make sure that a formal rule made it to Member Hayes before the end of the year when Member Becker’s term will expire.
  • Not surprisingly, Members Becker and Pearce voted in favor of the resolution to move forward on the more limited proposed rule while Member Hayes voted against.

Before revealing my scorecard for the match, let’s not forget the lead up. Over the Thanksgiving week members Hayes and Pearce (and Representative George Miller) exchanged “dueling letters” over the proposed meeting and whether Member Hayes would resign his position on the Board. Seeing everybody sitting in the same room discussing the rule after that week was a bit surreal. Overall things were pretty civil and, while everyone clearly disagreed on both substance and procedure, the Board members did disagree without being disagreeable.

That being said, they clearly do disagree. It is clear that Becker and Pearce are determined to get this rule done by the end of the year. They both rejected the plea from Member Hayes to respect 75 years of Board tradition and not pass a rule with only two votes in favor. They both claimed that since they had followed the Administrative Procedure Act that they had authority to do pretty much whatever they want.

Here’s how I scored the match. The exchanges between Becker and Hayes on the substance of the rules were strong. Hayes brought up some solid arguments for settling voter eligibility issues prior to the vote (in particular challenges regarding supervisor status). Member Becker responded with several examples where those decisions are routinely deferred under the current rules. If I were scoring this like a heavyweight fight I’d actually give Becker several of those rounds.

Where Becker and Pearce failed was on the process arguments. That was where Hayes landed the best punches of the bout. Hayes did an excellent job making clear that what he was most concerned about was the credibility of the Board. He correctly pleaded with his peers to not just ignore Board tradition because they can. Just because the APA doesn’t require things like requiring 3 votes or allowing a dissent after review of the final rule doesn’t mean the Board should ignore those procedural traditions.

The knockout punch came when Hayes asked his peers to not ask the question whether they can implement the rule by ignoring these traditions designed to give the Board stability and credibility by rushing it through before Becker’s term expires. Instead he asked them to consider whether they should do it.

When Member Hayes announced today that he is not going to resign his membership he undoubtedly angered many who would like to see the Board immobilized. And if Chairman Pearce doesn’t ram through the proposed election procedure changes before the end of the year he will also anger many who want to see election periods dramatically shrunk. But what is politically expedient isn’t often what is right.

The current Board has only about 20 workdays before it loses its quorum for another year and a half. It is a shame that the Board has lost so much credibility that for the second time in 5 years Congress has decided they would rather the Board just not function. My hope is that Chairman Pearce follow Member Hayes’ example and to think about what is in the best interest of the NLRB’s long-term credibility, not what is best for one Board constituency over another.

3 comments to Labor Relations Insight by Phillip Wilson: Let’s get ready to rumble….

  • Bo Randle

    Would it be safe to assume that had you been a member of Congress back in 1935 you would have vote no on the Wagner Act? Would it also be safe to assume that you believe that an employer, even in a non union setting, should be able to discharge any employee, even if it was to retaliate against the employee for having engaged in protected concerted activities; i.e. because the employee spoke up at the request of and on behalf of the other employees about their terms and conditions of employment? Please do not insult our intelligence that you are really for the worker in the workplace.

    As for the Board’s rulemaking, nothing that happened today diminished any employee rights in the workplace. For too many years employers have been able to stop employee efforts to unionize by discharging just one employees, because he/she was involved in the organizing effort. The more time that passes from filing of the petition to the date of the election, the more time an employer has to weed out the leading union adherents, and threaten the rest of the eligible voters. The complaints about the rulemaking have nothing to do with giving employers a fair opprotunity to tell its side of the story.

  • Mutantone

    This is just what Obama wants for the NLRB’s powers to be pro union only just look at who he has appointed to the board he had no intentions of a fair and balanced board he favors a slant towards the unions controlling it more than workers freedom to chose

  • John Galt

    Having suffered under numerous unions in my life, and witnessed the depressing effects that they ALL have had on the quality, earnings and representation of workers trapped therein, I can attest that Bo is completely cracked out.

    Would it be safe to assume that had we more like you in Congress, that we’d all be suffering the collectivist damage that IS the union label? Ooops… that’s right, we did and do.

    If I don’t like what my employer pays I am actually still free enough to pull up stakes and take my skills elsewhere. Since I am very good at what I do, I have no problem competing in the employment marketplace for ample wages, benefits, consideration and good working conditions. The only unemployment that I have ever experienced in my life was that which the union representation brought us.

    While still in school I worked as a cutter in a garment factory. One day our shop steward was overheard and seen taking a cash bribe from the new plant owners. His assurances were that he would keep us working and in line right up to the very last (which turned out to be the very last day that the plant was open before everything was shipped off to Asia… and that was about 40 years ago.

    Carpenters, Cabinet Makers, Bakers… been there done that, and got screwed by every one. The best experience that I ever had was working for one of the biggest bakers in the country. The owner would buy up all of the failed smaller bakeries, that the union had pretty well destroyed the competitiveness and market flexibility of, consolidate their operations, and offer to hire folks that weren’t interested in repeating the same mistakes. When they expressed a desire to act stupidly, he would simply close the plant and the union workers happily went on long term unemployment. A year or so later the plant would re-open as an open shop and by some miracle…nobody wanted anything to do with union “representation” The owner paid better than average wages, had a class leading benefits package, and made certain that his employees realized a representative increase in their piece of the pie as we continued to grow and succeed. The Teamsters tried to organize our division no less than five times, and never once managed to gather more than a dozen cards from over two hundred workers.
    Some of the smartest people I’ve ever known.

    Go back to signin’ up your government teat suckers Bo. They’re the last people left with jobs that can survive in our new world order without actually being productive. You were made for each other.

    As for all the supposed good that these collectivist cesspools claim, I can only judge by what I see and experience first hand. Everywhere that there is sloth and mediocrity, there is a union. Unemployment, soon to be bankrupt and unable to compete are the common ailments that the union rats carry in their fur.

    There is not a single example in our entire State where unionization has had a long term positive effect. We have no union manufacturing left, the longshoremen are chasing away as much business as they can, and the only sector that has grown has been that of the government trough lickers. Our public schools are total crap (you have to pay dues even if you don’t want to be a member of their union). State employees are famous for their ignorance both of a work ethic and mastery of the English language. What a great value for tax payers. We have some of the worst roads in America… but thank god we have a union to protect the worthless asses that don’t take care of that problem.

    There used to be steel mills here. I knew quite a few union stalwarts who were stone drunks, and went to work that way every day and night just to sleep it off and get a check. They all covered for each other of course… used to brag about how friggin’ little they actually did. Not a problem any more. First they tried to get their whores in Congress to protect the crap steel that they made with tarriffs, but even that couldn’t last ‘cuz everytime the company started to compete and make money, there was the union demanding 110% of every dime. Well they fixed it good, and now we get a better quality steel from overseas. We don’t have any choice ‘cuz we don’t make it here any longer. Way to go unionm!

    We had a GM plant too. Same thing, guys screwin’round whenever they could, which was often thanks to the union label. Fixed that one good too. The last jobs that the UAW brought to our town were the guys who got paid to tear the GM plant down.

    Let’s see… three, no four… whoops FIVE grocery chains have all failed. All union, and all replaced by better priced, better stocked, better staffed and nicer places to shop. Way to go union. The construction trades are so busy signin’ up illegals that they don’t have time to worry about any apprentice training…so they don’t. Carpenters and cabinet makers can go to the community college if they actually want to learn something. So much for that “quality ” work force. What a bad joke! Find me a painter and plasterers union member that can speak English and I’ll pay his dues.
    Pretty safe bet since none exists any longer.

    We had a union bus driver not too long ago who used to park his bus to stop in at the meth clinic. Yup…da union said it was A Okay. Don’t ya wish you could leave your driving to him?

    Local bud had an electrical contracting concern. When he won a big gubmint job the union boys harassed and threatened and destroyed his property til he gave in. Very persuasive. The business agent informed him that the only way that he would receive the manpower that he needed to catch back up, after the union criminal activity had put him there, was to hire his brother-in-law for something like 60K a year…oh, and BTW, he was never supposed to actually see this asshole show up, just make sure the checks keep gettin’ mailed. Only took six months for the union crooks to suck him dry and completely screw the job.

    I’m boring myself this is sooo depressing, and so wide spread and common. Any jackass that can’t see that unions and the Federal Reserve have destroyed our country (along with their fellatious partners in Congress) deserves the total collapse that they have worked so hard to accomplish. Like the lady said, the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money. Just ask GM, or Chrysler, or Bethlehem Steel, or Pantry Pride, or …

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