Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ever-more-radical NLRB attacks privacy, workers' rights

Writing for The Hill, the Workforce Fairness Institute's Fred Wszolek writes about the increasingly radical NLRB.
For much of the last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has focused almost exclusively on rewarding union bosses with decisions that hurt workers and small businesses. Board Member Brian Hayes was the sole countervailing voice providing a balanced view of the facts and law.

Now, with Hayes' term on the Board having expired, the Board is likely to take actions without input from members who have a broader perspective on labor management issues. For example, it is anticipated that the Board may try to undermine the secret ballot, a core element of workplace democracy, and provide union bosses with access to proprietary employee contact information.

Last year, Chairman Mark Pearce told a media outlet that the Obama Board had to keep its "eye on the prize." According to The Associated Press, "One change Pearce wants is requiring businesses to hand over lists of employee phone numbers and emails to union leaders before an election." Giving labor organizers private employee contact information without the worker's consent is an unwarranted encroachment on employees' privacy rights, and it opens the door to union harassment and intimidation. In addition, when it was disclosed that the Board was considering electronic off-site voting – a form of computerized card check – the Congress intervened and prevented any appropriations from being used for that purpose. Undoubtedly, the NLRB may try again. Off-site electronic voting, not unlike card check, would subject a worker’s vote to the scrutiny of third parties. It would expose workers to pressure tactics, even bullying, to assure they voted the union way.

While the NLRB is likely to try to accomplish these goals without a single minority member serving on it, a review of decisions issued since 1947 reveals that is extremely rare for a three member Board to issue major decisions. With only very few exceptions, major NLRB decisions have been reserved for a "full" Board, meaning one with at least four members. This provided participation from members of both political parties, which assured thorough deliberations and gave Board decisions the credibility considered necessary in this controversial arena for resolving labor-management disputes.
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