Will Democrats institute a job-killing Big Labor agenda through the back door? 

So far, the Obama administration has been mostly unable to cross off any of the big ticket items on the labor unions' wish list. Card check legislation doesn't have the votes in Congress. And the bipartisan defeat of SEIU and AFL-CIO attorney Craig Becker, Big Labor's favored nominee to the National Labor Relations Board, in the Senate earlier this week had to sting.

However, Democrats are under tremendous pressure to payback unions for their considerable support in the last few elections. There's been some talk that Democrats may try and attach card check legislation to the upcoming jobs bill in the Senate, which I discussed here.

And that's not the only way that Democrats could try and sneak through the unions' legislative agenda. The Daily Caller notes that Democrats may have another insidious plan in the works:

Senior administration officials are considering a series of proposals known as “High Road Contracting Policy” that would give preference to companies bidding on federal contracts that pay hourly workers a “living wage” (typically a mandated, above-market wage) and provide additional benefits above and beyond existing labor laws.

Critics say the proposals would heavily favor unionized companies and significantly increase the cost and amount of time needed to award contracts. Estimates have the potential cost increase at 20 percent, adding about $100 billion a year to the federal budget.

This "High Road Contracting Policy" seems an awful lot like a pernicious attempt to make "preferred labor agreements" the standard for federal contracts. Executive orders may also be put to use to ensure favors for politically influential labor leaders:

Now the administration is facing increasing pressure to go around Congress and implement pro-labor policies via executive order. The Service Employees International Union, one of the groups lobbying the White House to adopt the new labor policies, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“There’s a tremendous amount of fervor in this area related to the Obama administration taking some action to boost organized labor and I think one of the things this illustrates is that their are numerous avenues that could potentially be explored,” said Michael Fox, a labor and employment lawyer with Ogletree Deakins in Austin, Texas. Fox added that Obama could also consider a recess appointment for Becker, “if the administration has decided to burn their bridges and go all out.”

But sources told The Daily Caller that Vice President Biden’s office has already floated the idea of implementing the new labor policies by executive order and was rebuffed by OMB’s general counsel, who claimed such drastic changes to contracting laws would require legislative action. When asked for comment on the talks, an OMB official provided the following: “We are aware of the proposals and are currently in the process of reviewing them.”

The OMB may very well have rebuffed this plan to use executive orders to make sweeping labor regulations. But note that Craig Becker himself authored some very pro-labor executive orders shortly after Obama took office last year, clearly at the behest of unions. The administration does not seem to be above such a manuever. 

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Mark Hemingway

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