If you had to give a back to school assignment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning, “What I did on my summer vacation,” they would have quite a list to pick from. Among their various transgressions is a proposal to significantly alter current union representation election procedures, giving both employers and workers virtually no time to react and prepare before a union is suddenly summoned into being. Now that Congress is returning from their break, one of the first items on the agenda of House Republicans will apparently be to put the brakes on this plan.

House Republicans paint target on NLRB’s proposed union election rules

House Republicans plan to move on legislation in the coming weeks to block a proposed rule by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that will speed up union elections.

The proposal, backed by labor but heavily criticized by business groups, was tagged as one of the 10 most harmful regulations proposed by the Obama administration in a memo sent by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to House Republicans this week.

“The hope is to move forward in the coming weeks with a proposal that will rein in the NLRB, and protect employers’ right to free speech and workers’ ability to make a fully-informed decision in a union election,” a House Republican aide told The Hill.

“Paint target on”??? Dude! New tone!

There are certainly plenty of other new, job killing regulations which need to be addressed – many from the EPA – but since we have to start someplace I suppose this is as good as any. Whether you’re talking about Boeing, or the automotive industry or the United States Post Office, trends over the last couple of decades in particular should point to a pressing need in this area. The relationship between unions, workers, employers and the government has evolved considerably from the early days of coal mining. And like anything which grows far beyond its original scope, unions have found themselves under increasing scrutiny for creating more problems than they solve.

But even beyond the specific role of unions, I hope the debate in the House of Representatives will being a long overdue discussion on the proper scope of regulatory agencies in the executive branch of the federal government. It’s not there is no proper place for such offices, but their role has also evolved significantly. Cabinet level offices in many cases are no longer “advisory” in nature so much as they act as a de facto super-legislative branch of the government, passing rules with the force of law outside the control of the people’s representatives in the process. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a complex and constitutionally tricky proposal to do anything about it.