Opinion

Is the NLRB an 'independent' federal agency?

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Opinion,Op-Eds
When the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was in the news concerning the complaint filed by its Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon against the Boeing Company, the White House was queried about the matter and stated they would not opine as the agency was supposedly “independent.”  This excuse has allowed President Obama to claim a degree of separation and distance himself from the job-killing decisions and rulings issued by the board. 
 
But is it a fair or accurate defense?  When determining the response to that question, it requires a walk back through recent history.  President Obama has recess-appointed nominees to the NLRB who could never garner sufficient support during the Congressional confirmation process.  One example, Craig Becker, was opposed by Republicans and Democrats alike. The president nonetheless recess-appointed Becker, former counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and he went on to author of the Specialty Healthcare or "micro-union" decision.
 
Yet another example is Richard Griffin.  The White House nominated Griffin, as well as two additional nominees in December 2011, yet recess appointed them on January 4, 2012.  Why?  Because Griffin was tainted and could never survive any serious examination by the U.S. Senate.  While Griffin was general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the union’s locals were being overtaken by mobsters and criminals. 
 
Do these sound like the kind of individuals who should be serving as judges in labor disputes between business owners and organized labor in the private sector?  Of course not.  They are not unbiased, they are clearly conflicted and prejudiced.  Barack Obama can’t do any better than Craig Becker and Richard Griffin?  
 
The NLRB is supposed to be independent, but it has become anything but that under President Obama.  The White House has used the NLRB to reward its largest political contributor making little effort to disguise this as anything outside “payback” to Big Labor.

And where has that left employees and employers?  It has left them scrambling to deal with policies such as micro-unions.  The Specialty Healthcare decision sanctioned the formation of mini collective bargaining units made up of as few as two or three employees, which allows labor bosses to infiltrate a workplace and gain a foothold in the business, whether or not the majority of workers want to be represented by a union.  The policy has employers deeply concerned they will be forced to negotiate with a proliferation of different micro-unions under one roof, increasing labor and management costs in an extremely difficult economic time period.

 

Micro-unions won’t create a single job, in fact, they will result in higher unemployment and greater job loss, yet this so-called “independent” agency implemented the policy with nary a comment from the White House.  As President Obama travels the country extolling the policies of his administration, let’s hope someone in the media or a citizen in a town hall has the opportunity to ask him how an agency stocked with his handpicked nominees who are directly tied to Big Labor can be considered “independent” and whether he agrees or disagrees with their decisions, starting with Specialty Healthcare which creates division, discord and disharmony in the workplace and entangles business owners in an expensive mess of union red tape and competing demands.

 

 Fred Wszolek is spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).
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