Congress Takes a Step on 'Micro-Unions'

Congress Takes a Step on 'Micro-Unions'

Congress took a crucial step last week to protect the rights and freedoms of American workers and employers. Despite efforts by Big Labor bosses to block progress, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 4320) and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4321).

If enacted, these bills would provide an important check on the latest overreach attempted by President Obama's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The board, run by appointed bureaucrats with close ties to Big Labor, has proposed a rule to shorten the timeframe in which union elections can be held. These "ambush" elections would unnecessarily speed up the unionization process, preventing employers from making their case to workers and depriving employees of the time and information they need to make an informed decision about unionization. In addition, the board would like to expand the information businesses are required to give to union organizers -- which already includes workers' names and home addresses - to include telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

With dysfunction so often the order of the day in Washington, it's gratifying to see Congress performing its oversight duties with such vigor. The Education and the Workforce Committee and its chairman, John Kline of Minnesota, are attempting to hold the NLRB to its own stated purpose of ensuring "robust debate" over the issue of workplace unionization. "Ambush" elections would stifle discussion, and opening access to workers' information would expose them to the all-too-common intimidation tactics employed by union organizers. How exactly does that advance "robust debate"? It's clear that President Obama's NLRB has no qualms about contradicting its mission and overstepping its bounds, as long as it's advancing the interests of Big Labor.

The committee took its oversight role one step further by adding an amendment to the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act that combats the establishment of "micro-unions," in which a few employees or a certain department within a business unionize separately from other workers. President Obama's NLRB ruled micro-unions legal in 2011, allowing union bosses to cherry-pick workers to organize. Micro-unionization can even lead to multiple unions in a single workplace, pitting worker against worker and disrupting the work environment. Micro-unions fly in the face of decades of labor law and practice, and Congress is right to take action against them.

It's up to Congress to keep the NLRB in check. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 4320) and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4321) could go a long way toward achieving that goal.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.

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