The Future of Labor Relations


National Right to Work Legal Foundation Attorney John Raudabaugh comments on how the recent packing of the National Labor Relations Board with pro-union appointees is likely to affect the decisions coming from that board.  Andrew Stiles has the story in National Review Online.

John Raudabaugh, a labor-law professor at Ave Maria University who served on the NLRB from 1990 to 1993, says the board may be gearing up for some significant rules changes sought by labor unions, perhaps beginning with new regulations that would significantly streamline union-elections process. Critics argue that so-called “snap elections” for union representation could dramatically increase the number of unionized workers by giving employers less time to prepare and present an argument against unionization.

“I’m confident that will be forthcoming,” Raudabaugh tells National Review Online. In fact, the board already tried to implement the new rules in 2012, but was (at least temporarily) thwarted when a district-court judge ruled that the NLRB could not approve the rule with only two members.

The NLRB may also choose to revisit a controversial 2011 ruling concerning the ability of unions to organize into “micro units,” designed to allow small, distinct units of employees within a company to unionize, even if the remainder of the workforce doesn’t want to. Last year the board determined that “units” as distinct as the shoe salesmen on the second and fifth floors of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City should be allowed to vote to unionize.

Raudabaugh says he expects to the board to continue its “nitpicking” review of employee handbooks and human-resource policies and push for new rules that will make it more difficult for employers to fire people, and says it could potentially move to overturn almost a half-century’s worth of precedent by eliminating an employer’s ability to halt the collection of union dues upon the expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement.

With union membership falling to a near-century low, as measured by its share of the national workforce (11.3 percent), and Big Labor unhappy about having to comply with the requirements of the health-care-reform law it strongly supported in 2010, unions are having a difficult year. But now at least they have the NLRB.