As Barack Obama’s memorial speech in Tuscon brought healing to Arizona, his administration was preparing to bring the pain. As part of the Friday news dump, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced it planned to sue the states of Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah to allow unions to continue organizing through card-check instead of the secret ballot. This is a fight Republicans should welcome, because its terms and tactics reveal a White House desperate to bypass the will of the people and rule by federal decree.
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In November, voters in four states approved state constitutional amendments that gave all employees the right to a secret ballot election when deciding whether to unionize. The elections were lopsided blowouts that set back the labor cause. Voters approved the measures by:
- 60 percent in Utah;
- 61 percent in Arizona;
- 79 percent in South Dakota; and
- 86 percent in South Carolina.
Now, in steps the federal bureaucracy. The NLRB — under the control of former union lawyers like SEIU extremist Craig Becker — contends that the state referenda conflict with federal law. NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon sent a series of letters to the states’ attorney generals threatening legal action from attorney Mark Eskenazi, if the states do not overturn the will of the vast majority of their voters. (The extortion letters are also signed by Eric Moskowitz and Abby Propis Simms, Assistant and Deputy General Counsel, respectively.)
A provision in the National Labor Relations Act, they claim, allows employers to voluntarily recognize unions after a card-check campaign; thus, the state provisions are unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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Organizing, Bullying, Lying, Etc.
The states had ample reason to oppose the spread of card-check unionization. Union organizers often resort to threats, bribery, coercion, or deception to get employees to sign on the dotted line. Dan Yager of the HR Policy Association testified to more than 100 abuses of union organizers threatening workers with losing their jobs, health benefits, or being deported if they failed to sign the cards asking to form a union, while they promised others everything from green cards to free turkeys. Perhaps that is why, in a 1967 federal case brought by the NLRB (NLRB vs. S.S. Logan Packing Co.), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, “It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wishes of employees than a ‘card check,’ unless it were an employer’s request for an open show of hands.”
As a final measure of hypocrisy: even the AFL-CIO supports secret ballot elections when workers choose to decertify a union — to sever its contract and represent themselves.
More Executive Branch ObamArrogance
The move is simply the latest federal assault on the will of voters. Obama held off on unleashing the lawsuits until after the lame duck power-grab session, to see if repudiated Democrats would shove the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), better known as “card-check,” down the American people’s collective throat. When they demurred, Obama sent in the federal troops. As this author reported, Obama promised an “activist” executive branch dedicated to advancing his constituencies’ goals in a 2001 public radio interview.
Obama cannot say he is merely “enforcing the law.” Obama simultaneously granted “stealth amnesty” by dismissing thousands of federal cases against illegal immigrants; he is suing Arizona for complying with federal immigration law; he sent federal election workers to multiple states last November to assure state poll workers were not too diligent in assuring that voters are legally entitled to cast a ballot; his Justice Department refuses to remove dead and ineligible voters from state voting rolls; and strong evidence has emerged that his administration threw out the Black Panther voter intimidation lawsuit — and has failed to bring who knows how many more — because the Department of Justice refuses to prosecute minority defendants.
This should be a further wake-up call to conservatives that this administration selectively enforces the law to help its friends and harm its enemies — who in this case are nearly 90 percent of South Carolina voters.
Feckless (Conservative) Reporting
Unfortunately, there is little reason for optimism. The conservative media, so late to discover Obama’s decision to rule by executive fiat, are off to a bad start on this. The Wall Street Journal set the standard for feckless reporting with this analysis:
The NLRB’s move could put the Obama administration in a difficult spot as it seeks to refashion itself after the Democrats’ midterm election defeat. Federal agencies such as the NLRB and the Environmental Protection Agency appear to be continuing policies begun long before last November. That could put Washington’s rule-making bodies at odds with the new tone set by the president’s choice of William Daley as White House Chief of Staff, a man known for his ties to business.
Why, it is nearly as though Obama never intended to rethink his anti-business, job-killing policies. Heaven forfend!
Take Up This Fight
Republicans should make card-check a major battleground. States should test their opportunity to nullify the measure under the Tenth Amendment. If these state initiatives are preempted by federal legislation, then Republicans at the national level should ride the wave of voter discontent and change federal law. America is on their side and knows unions have overreached so badly that state and federal pensions alone threaten to bankrupt us.
Congressional Republicans should pass the Secret Ballot Protection Act introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, which would eliminate all card-check unionization. Then, call in George McGovern and have him testify on behalf of South Dakota. Allow the most liberal nominee B.B.O. (Before Barack Obama) to tell the president he has gone too far.
The GOP should use this issue to align itself with the forces of democracy, private elections, and fiscal responsibility. Tea Party conservatives must communicate that they are standing up against corrupt union bosses and an encroaching federal government that ignores the will of the vast majority of voters, imposes its agenda by unilateral force, and engages the full force of the federal government to advance corrupt special interests America can no longer afford.
This issue encapsulates everything conservative Republicans have been fighting for, and against. Now, let’s see if they have the courage to fight.