AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka boasted during a February 2011 news conference that he’s “at the White House a couple times a week, two, three times a week.” Trumka added that he also has “conversations every day with someone at the White House or in the administration.” Yesterday we learned conclusively that when the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka speaks, White House officials listen.
The evidence became public with the National Labor Relations Board’s announcement of proposed new rules for workplace representation elections in the private sector. This is the same NLRB trying to use Boeing to strike fear in the minds of all corporate leaders who might be thinking of moving some or all of their operations to right-to-work states. The aircraft maker’s sin was to build a new plant in South Carolina to fill orders for its new 787 “Dreamliner” that couldn’t be handled by its unionized workforce in Seattle. If the NLRB succeeds in reversing the Boeing expansion, it will effectively put federal bureaucrats — assisted by union bosses like Trumka — in charge of corporate investment planning across America, as is done in European welfare states with their stagnant, job-killing economies.
The new workplace representation election rules are needed to “remove unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of questions concerning representation,” according to the NLRB. They want the NLRB to severely limit or kill management’s ability to oppose unionization prior to representation elections and to expose abusive campaign practices by unions after workers vote. Apparently, the labor bosses aren’t satisfied with winning more than 60 percent of workplace representation elections in recent years.
Less than 7 percent of all private sector workers are now unionized. Trumka’s problem isn’t that he and his cohorts aren’t winning enough representation elections once they are held, but rather that they have immense difficulties persuading the requisite 30 percent of targeted workforces to sign petitions calling for elections. About 60 days presently elapse between submission of a union petition for an election and the voting. It’s not clear from the material released by the board how much the new procedures would shorten the time between petition and election. In fact, nobody really knows whether management or labor would benefit more from an abbreviated campaign.
So what labor’s NLRB allies really want is likely found in the proposal’s provision granting the board unilateral “discretion to deny review of post-election rulings — the same discretion now exercised concerning pre-election rulings.” That would allow NLRB to ignore post-election evidence presented by management about union campaign abuses. That would amount to a free pass for unions to intimidate workers into signing petitions calling for unionization.