The National Labor Relations Board isn't suffering for work, but President Obama's appointees at this arbiter of labor relations are nonetheless grabbing a vast new mission: Regulating the workplaces of companies that have no union at all.The NLRB is pretty much now owned by Big Labor.
That's the gist of NLRB actions resurrecting a musty provision in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act known as "protected concerted activity." Lawmakers worried at the time that companies would impose work rules dissuading employees from communicating about a union. "Protected concerted activity" ensured that employees could freely gather around the proverbial water cooler. Yet as workplaces modernized and workers obtained other protections, successful complaints about violations of "concerted activity" became rare.
That's changed under NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, who readers may recall as the architect of the NLRB attempt to block Boeing from building planes in right-to-work South Carolina. Mr. Solomon is now teeing up decisions that use "concerted activity" to dictate workplace rules that have nothing to do with the right to organize.
Take the NLRB's decision last year in D.R. Horton, which found that a company had violated the concerted-activity rule by including restrictions against class-action lawsuits in an arbitration agreement. Mr. Solomon may believe every worker needs a trial lawyer on speed-dial, but it's ludicrous to argue that this has anything to do with forming a union. Unless the ruling is overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the NLRB could begin attacking class-action restrictions across the economy.
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