Friday, April 22, 2011

NLRB And The Right To Say “No”

 In “The Godfather”, when Don Corleone says he's “gonna make him an offer he can't refuse”, it's generally understood that the Don isn't intending to engage in honest and meaningful negotiations. He's going to make a threat, backed by force.

The recent action by the National Labor Relations Board challenging Boeing's decision to build a new plant in right-to-work South Carolina has a similar bent. This move by Obama's NLRB is part of a continuing attempting to take away management's right to say “no” to unions in any meaningful sense of the word.

In every other facet of civilized society, meaningful consent is defined by the ability of one party to walk away. Why is employment – typically considered to be a “voluntary” arrangement – any different?

It should be noted that the South Carolina plant is a second line, and that no union worker will lose his or her job. Actually, more union jobs are being added in Puget Sound to support the South Carolina facility. All Boeing did was decide to build a plant in a place with favorable labor laws while being honest enough to say why.

This shouldn't come as any surprise to anybody who was paying attention in 2008. A visit to Obama's 2008 campaign website via the WayBack Machine shows that this recent behavior is part of a larger pattern. As far back as January of 2008, BarackObama.com promoted the following policy:
Protect Striking Workers: Obama supports the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. He will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods. 



A nearly identical statement incorporating Joe Biden's name persisted on the website through the election.

This statement, buried on the Obama campaign website, told you everything you need to know about Obama's governing philosophy.  "He will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers..."  Knowing that the union could never be broken even under the most dire circumstances, labor “negotiators” would be able to demand anything they wanted – literally making offers that management could not refuse.

But this privileged status only extends to union organizers, not to individual workers. Let's not forget EFCA, the absurdly named “Employee Free Choice Act” – a.k.a. “Card Check”. Though now seemingly on ice, EFCA would have effectively eliminated secret ballot union elections, and with it the meaningful right of refusal to join a union.

If the Obama administration had its way, workers could not refuse to join unions, management could not refuse to acquiesce to union demands, and businesses could not even build new facilities except where union “negotiators” stipulated.

If Big Labor and the administration think they can make people offers that others can't refuse, it's not going too far to suggest they are acting like gangsters.

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