The National Labor Relations Board under President Barack Obama knows no bounds to its union advocacy, as it showed with two recent decisions.
A little history: In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its “Beck” decision, which says a portion of union dues going to political causes can be waived for workers who request it. Since then, Republican administrations have traditionally ordered notices to that effect to go up in workplaces, and Democratic administrations have ordered them taken down.
The Obama NLRB went a step further this month when it voted 3-1 to gut the protections afforded by Beck. The panel said requirements that unions keep independent audits of their finances and prove to members that they're properly spending dues money no longer apply, and that those who object are no longer entitled to that proof.
The NLRB also said unions' lobbying expenses can be charged to so-called Beck objectors, “to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment.” As The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, that definition “could cover nearly any lobbying expense.”
In another gift to Big Labor, the NLRB rejected half a century of precedent and voted 3-1 to make businesses that are struck by unions after contracts expire withhold dues and pass that money along to union leaders. This change gives more clout to the unions, which the Journal noted is “the entire point of the NLRB ruling, and it's typical of the way that President Obama's appointees have become union partisans instead of independent arbiters of labor disputes.”
That was evident with the board's effort in 2011 to keep Boeing from opening a plant in right-to-work South Carolina, among other gamey decisions. With Obama's re-election secure, the Journal predicts more shenanigans ahead. Americans can only hope the newspaper is wrong about that, but the December surprises don't bode well.