While politicians have kept the focus on the fiscal cliff and displaced anger toward law-abiding citizens who own guns, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was able to quietly overturn longstanding precedents to give unions some Christmas gifts that will ultimately hand them a windfall.
In the steamrolling style that is now the hallmark of the Obama administration and its extensions, the NLRB voted 3-1 to gut the Supreme Court’s 1988 Communication Workers of America v. Beck decision, whereby union workers in non-right-to-work states were able to withhold the portion of their dues that unions spend on political activism. The NLRB now allows that unions no longer are required to provide proof, through audits of their finances, to so-called “Beck objectors” that their money is not spent on union politics.
In addition to saving unions from mandatory financial audits, the NLRB also decided that lobbying expenses are now “chargeable to [Beck] objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment.”
These new rules mean that workers who are forced to join unions and pay union dues have less control than ever over how their money is spent by union leaders. Labor bosses can now spend those funds on just about any lobbying expense whatsoever and never have to justify it.
The same NLRB also struck down, in another 3-1 vote, 50 years of precedent established with the Bethlehem Steel Case in 1962, by now requiring companies to subsidize unions that strike against them. NLRB found that “an employer’s obligation to collect union dues under a check-off agreement will continue after the contract expires and before a bargaining impasse occurs or a new contract is reached.”
Under this new rule, employees will now be told they can voluntarily protect themselves from getting behind on payment of union dues, and risking termination, by checking the box to have union dues automatically deducted by the employer. Undoubtedly, this decision will allow interminable support of striking workers without any fear of unions not receiving their dues.
NLRB gifts to the unions will continue into next year, when employers will be required to reveal all information regarding labor consultants they have hired, a rule that will likely result in the end of the business of being a labor consultant.
Waiting in the wings is another new NLRB rule that will require employers to divulge all employee contact information to unions during their organizing drives, a practice that will assist unions in the identification of prospective members. Workers themselves will have no right to privacy and no opting out of having their personal information provided to union leaders with this new rule.
These decisions were made despite the lone dissent of NLRB’s sole remaining Republican member, Brian Hayes, a critic of NLRB’s aggressive and partisan agenda, whose term expired on December 16th.
The Senate ultimately confirmed Chairman Mark Pearce, but the other two remaining members, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, Jr., are the subjects of a federal lawsuit.