Union Bailout Update

by | Jan 6, 2012 | Uncategorized

We were just over 80 hours into the new year when President Obama lobbed his first grenade at a 2012 economic recovery with three “recess” appointments to the NLRB. “We can’t wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it” the President said, presumably with a straight face. And the two Democrat appointees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, seem to have enough liberal chops to placate even the most disheartened union bosses this election year.  Block, a Columbia grad, has worked for Ted Kennedy, the National Endowment for the Humanities and most recently directly under Labor Secretary (and unabashed union booster) Hilda Solis.  Griffin, from the mold of Craig Becker, is the current General Counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, a position he has held since 1994. “We have a lot of concerns about his conflicts of interest,” said Fred Wszolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, understating the painfully obvious. “It’s hard to see how someone who’s on the lawyers’ coordinating committee of the AFL-CIO wouldn’t have to stay out of every case involving an AFL affiliate.” David Hirschmann of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is confident the appointments will be challenged in the courts even as the Chamber is still deciding if it will file its own legal objections to them. “We’ve made no decisions ourselves,” Hirschmann told The Hill. “What we do know is … it’s almost certain ultimately a court will decide if what the president did is legal or not.” Perhaps Lindsey Graham summed it all up best. “Mr. President, hasn’t the NLRB already done enough damage?” The Chamber just two weeks ago did sue the Board over the ambush election rule that was rammed through in the last weeks of Craig Becker’s recess appointment.   The Chamber’s lawsuit argues that the blatantly partisan purpose of the rule is to ensure that employers have no time to talk to their workers about unionizing, and that the only information workers will get will come from the union.  According to the suit, the new election rule violates the National Labor Relations Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and free speech and due process constitutional rights. Meanwhile, the Chamber may get some help from Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) who announced in December he would use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to challenge the new ambush rules.  Enzi contends the Board rushed the comment period and adopted the rules with limited public input.  “This gift to union bosses is nothing more than a lump of coal for America’s job creators,” Enzi said.  “It is disappointing that union advocates believe their best chance to succeed, when it comes to union elections, is to ensure that only one side of the story is able to get out.”  The CRA allows either the Senate or the House to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval with the full force of law to stop a federal agency from implementing a recent rule or regulation.  A resolution of disapproval cannot be filibustered and needs only a simple majority in the Senate to pass if acted upon during a 60-day window. And finally, in another tidbit of good news, the NLRB announced on December 23 that it has postponed implementation of its new one-sided posting rule until April 30 at the request of a Federal judge.  The rule, which was slated to go into effect this month, is being challenged in the courts by the National Association of Manufacturers, National Right to Work,  the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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