• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • NLRB Heralds Labor Day with an Attack on Workers' Rights

    This week, just in time for Labor Day, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) handed down several decisions that undermine workers’ rights to tell union organizers “no.”

    In one ruling, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, the NLRB radically redefined the definition of a collective bargaining unit—the workers a union represents—to permit micro-unions. Traditionally, unions organize workers who share a community of interest. At a grocery store, for example, a collective bargaining unit would typically represent all the hourly employees.

    The NLRB junked that definition in favor of a new standard: Now, instead of one union representing all workers with similar interests, unions could organize smaller micro-unions representing just a few workers. At a store this would allow separate unions to represent just the cashiers while leaving all other workers unorganized.

    These rules will allow unions to gerrymander bargaining units to disenfranchise workers that oppose unionizing. If a union knows that the shelf-stockers would vote against unionizing, it can now propose a bargaining unit that excludes them. When the cashiers vote, the shelf-stockers would not get a say. However, the excluded workers would share in all the risks and downsides of unionizing. Strikes will also put them out of work, and if the union bankrupts the company, they will also lose their jobs.

    The NLRB has decided that workers who do not want to take these risks will not get to vote. That certainly makes life easier for union organizers, but it hardly enhances workers’ rights.

    In a second ruling, Lamons Gasket Co., the NLRB took another swipe at the secret ballot. Under current law, unions do not have to organize workers through secret ballot elections. If a company agrees to it, unions can solicit signatures on union authorization cards.

    With this card-check process, unions know exactly who does and does not support them and can pressure holdouts to change their minds. Obviously, this will not necessarily reflect workers’ true preferences. But once a majority of workers sign, the company can recognize the union without an election.

    Fortunately, the law gives workers an important out: They can file for a secret ballot decertification election. Or at least they could until now.

    In Lamons Gasket Co., the NLRB decided that workers organized through card-check will have to wait six months to a year before they can ask for a secret ballot decertification election—by which time their company will have signed a collective bargaining agreement, and that prevents them on voting until the agreement comes up for renegotiation.

    The NLRB’s message for workers who want to keep their choice private: “Fuggedaboutit!”

    That certainly benefits union organizers—but not so much the workers who don’t want to explain to the Teamsters why they do not want Jimmy Hoffa’s representation services.

    Unions argue that they speak for workers, but when expanding their own institutional power conflicts with workers’ rights, unions consistently put themselves first. Which may be part of the reason that less than 10 percent of workers want to join a union to begin with.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to NLRB Heralds Labor Day with an Attack on Workers' Rights

    1. Thomas Murphy says:

      You are just a union hater and nothing more. You would be happy to allow workers to have the right to be abused by management with no recourse and to have the right to whatever wages the boss says is fair. The pressure applied in the workplace is totally controled by the company so don't even talk about pressure from union organizers. It does not exist.

      • Bobbie says:

        settle down, Mr. Murphy. Why can't people work for themselves without having to submit to unions between the employee and the boss? there is such a thing called civil justice for people who are "abused" by "management." Why don' t you let your mind think for itself? and fmrusmcrntx is absolutely right. with the NLRB there's no need for you to expense yourself to a union. there's plenty of recourse that people can take using their freedom to take it. unions aren't going to let you know that! why would you want to be represented by people who are corrupting you?????

    2. fmrusmcrntx says:

      There's a simple solution to this problem. The NLRB (a product of FDR & his "New Deal") should be immediately abolished! In fact, what's needed in this country is a national "right to work" law! Sure, back at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, the labor unions were needed and did some good things. But since the 1950's, what they've done is kill off manufacturing in the USA while remaining the single largest "special interest group" in the country helping to drive our economy into bankruptcy! The very idea that the NLRB can tell a private company (Boeing) where they can or cannot build a factory is, along with "card-check" both unconstitutional and un-American! :(

    3. Jim says:

      Right to work – Congress is doing nothing. A travisty, at the least.

    4. Wes in the midwest says:

      unions started out a good thing, but now all they are interested in is power.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.