Tomorrow is Labor Day, the unofficial end of the summer and a celebration of America’s working men and women. Americans will relax and enjoy themselves on their day off, but this will come as little consolation for the 14 million Americans currently unemployed.
We are waiting this week for President Barack Obama to provide an effective plan to restore our economic dynamism and put these people back to work. To date, he has focused his labor policies on the one in 14 American workers in the private sector who still belong to unions, largely ignoring the 90 percent of workers who don’t. That’s because those unions — in many cases against their members’ desires — provide massive, poorly disclosed campaign expenditures on behalf of Democrats. The result has been a panoply of policies that are sapping America’s economic vigor while enshrining privileges for a fortunate few.
The current National Labor Relations Board, far from serving as a mediator and peacekeeper between labor and industry, has become an advocate for a specific Democratic interest group. In addition to its punitive prosecution of Boeing — which made the mistake of expanding its nonunion labor force in a right-to-work state — the NLRB has been busily staving off the inevitable demise of private-sector unions with a slew of decisions that will further weaken the businesses that employ most Americans. These latest rulings were made just as liberal Chairwoman Wilma Liebman’s term expired last Saturday.
Despite lacking any statutory authority, the board has now decreed that employers must advertise to workers their right to form unions, using very large posters and electronic communications. The NLRB also issued pro-union rulings in a handful of critical cases. In one, they decided that when unions cannot win over a majority of employees in a workplace, they can still replenish their diminishing ranks by targeting small groups of employees who might be more receptive to unionization. In another case, the NLRB stripped from workers the right to challenge immediately the results of card-check drives by unions. The ruling applies in cases where employers collude with unions, letting them organize their workplaces without secret ballot elections. In a third case, the NLRB abolished workers’ right to change unions or get rid of their union in a timely manner when a company changes hands.
Obama had promised the Service Employees International Union that, as president, he would make the union’s agenda his own. And since his inauguration, top union bosses have had more access to the White House than most Cabinet secretaries. American workers, the vast majority of whom have nothing to gain from unionization, can only wish they had a president who cared for their interests, and for broader prosperity, as much as he cares for this single, shrinking institution.