As labor unions shrink, new and exciting ways of promoting union membership are springing up all over. In April, I wrote about one university course in Missouri that delved into the finer points of using thug tactics in labor disputes, which is a pretty terrible threat to democratic principles on its own. Yet the threat of physical violence isn’t the only effective means of coercion available to the labor movement, or to any movement, or the most powerful tool in that tool kit.
After all, the government is well-equipped to bust some proverbial knee caps of their own, and it looks like the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Labor Department are taking out the big bats. First, it was Boeing’s decision to move some of its operations from Washington state to South Carolina, which the NLRB is now trying to block. This week, it’s the Labor Department’s turn to do some damage, tightening requirements on employers to report their anti-unionization activities. And today, the National Review editorial board lays out the NLRB’s latest plan to help organized labor and make employer attempts to dissuade employees from unionizing that much more difficult.
It is truly worrisome that the small, ideological leadership of these bureaucracies can so easily, and unilaterally, craft American labor law and interfere with the movement of labor without even a contemporaneous, affirmative act of Congress compelling these fresh rule-making activities. We already know that Obamacare didn’t empower the administration to offer waivers to the law. We know that the Obama administration wants to enact gun control through administrative procedure. Is there anything federal bureaucrats can’t do? If not, isn’t that an enormous problem?
National Review‘s Kevin Williamson puts the problem this way (emphasis added):
If you are an entrepreneur thinking about starting a large industrial enterprise, or an incumbent firm thinking about building a new factory or launching a new line of production, you want to know that your tax and regulatory environment is livable — and that it is not going to change at the whim of one or two or three people in Washington, D.C. The NLRB has five seats (and four members serving; there’s a vacancy at the moment). The fact that such a tiny group of unaccountable political appointees can just wake up one fine morning, have some Pop-Tarts, and then decide to rewrite the nation’s union-election rules is terrifying. Such changes ought to require an act of Congress.
Roll out of bed, toast a pastry, pass a rule. Maybe a bat isn’t necessary after all.