Washington Times Op-Ed: Obama’s unfair union-election tilt By Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Kline, and Rep. Phil Roe
Friday, March 28, 2014Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729
The president is waging a public-relations campaign about income inequality in this country, but rather than focus on growing the economy and encouraging businesses to hire, this administration has fallen back on stale, bankrupt ideas that don’t help workers achieve more.
The latest is a rule proposed by the National Labor Relations Board to speed up union elections, reduce the time workers have to decide whether or not to join a labor union, and force employers to hand over to union organizers their employees’ private information.
The board’s Democratic majority is expected to finalize the proposed rule later this year.
Congress must take action. On Thursday, we introduced legislation that will prohibit this administration from rigging union elections and ensure workers get adequate time to hear from both sides and make a decision, while maintaining control over their personal information.
Today, the union election process takes a median of 38 days — generally enough time for unions to make their case and for employers to make theirs, and for employees to have the information they need to make a fully informed decision.
The proposed rule would shrink that process to as few as 10 days — just enough time for unions to make their aggressive plug without giving employers adequate time to respond. It hamstrings employers from speaking to workers and making their case to the board, forcing them to raise all their concerns within seven days and essentially forfeit the right to raise additional concerns later.
The real loser is the American worker, who would be ambushed by the process and forced to make a decision without all the facts.
The current election timeline doesn’t favor employers. Unions win 60 percent of elections.
Labor unions are suffering dwindling ranks and need the kind of advantage that can only come by rigging the election. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is more than ready to help out their union allies.
If the proposed rule sounds familiar, it should. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia already struck down the administration’s past attempt to rush through ambush elections on procedural grounds.
This time around, the National Labor Relations Board is going even further. The rule includes a provision that shows a startling lack of respect for workers. Employers would be forced to hand over the private cellphone numbers and email addresses, work location and shift information of workers to union officials.
This provision constitutes an unprecedented invasion of worker privacy.
Choosing whether or not to join a union is an important decision. If unions are certain they are best for workers, then they shouldn’t fear an election process that allows workers a real opportunity to make up their minds.
Our legislation will ensure sufficient time for employers and workers to prepare for an election and require the election take place no sooner than 35 days after the petition is filed. It will permit employers to raise concerns throughout the process, and it empowers employees to choose the personal information that will be disclosed to unions.
The federal labor board ought be an umpire rather than a biased advocate. Today’s board fails that test, as President Obama has appointed union advocates to serve in the roles of adjudicators.
In the face of this board’s union advocacy, Congress needs to stand up for fairness to workers and employers.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce health, employment, labor and pensions subcommittee.
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