The National Labor Relations Board is getting headlines right now for its ongoing involvement in college athlete unionization, but President Obama’s controversial general counsel is looking into doing real harm to the economy.
NLRB general counsel Richard Griffin wants to force employers to consult with a union when it comes to relocation decisions. This is a massive change to the current way that economic decisions are made, and would cause the cost of doing business everywhere to skyrocket.
The chairman of the NLRB under George W. Bush, Peter Schaumber, wrote for RealClearPolicy:
Under longstanding NLRB law, a unionized employer is not required to bargain with the union over a relocation decision that is motivated by labor-cost savings if the employer determines that bargaining would be futile — that the union could not offer labor-cost savings that could change its decision. Unions can contest the employer’s decision, but they have no right to participate in it or otherwise delay it absent a court order enjoining it.
Griffin intends to change this law by making bargaining mandatory. He will argue, as did a former board member whose views he cites, that mandatory bargaining is a modest change in the law that fulfills the National Labor Relations Act’s central purpose of promoting collective bargaining. Why deprive the union of the opportunity to explore or influence an employer’s relocation decision when labor costs, an area over which the union exercises some authority, are a motivating factor?
Schaumber goes on to write that this is a solution in search of a problem. Unions already are favored in the status quo, and this would be an unnecessary step to empower them further. This would also fly in the face of the way that the Supreme Court has interpreted the union-employer relationship, and that the proposal would make unions incredibly powerful when it came to collective bargaining.
The story of labor relations in the Obama era is of unions attempting to re-assert their power in American life. This chart may explain why:
That’s from professor Mark Perry, now of the American Enterprise Institute. Private sector unions have been losing power for a very, very long time, even despite favorable bargaining rules. Labor unions also make up a sizeable part of the Democratic Party’s fundraising base. President Obama’s NLRB, as we’ve seen, is composed of people who are dedicated to reversing the shrinking power base of unions. This proposal to force employers to get the approval of labor unions for relocation decisions would hurt the American economy for the benefit for a major Democratic party constituency.