The National Labor Relations Board is out of control, and it's time to slam the brakes on.
The board is already under attack over the way it has tried to keep Boeing from expanding its operations in South Carolina—a right to work state—instead of at its home base in Washington where is has been beset by periodic union trouble over the last several decades. The argument that it is putting union interests ahead of job creation and federal law has done little to sway it.
Now the NLRB, which is dominated by Obama appointees, is trying to alter the timetable for union organizing elections, in effect shortening the process and, say critics, making it harder for companies to mount a campaign to explain to its employees why it may be in their best interests to keep the union out.
The board, which is supposed to operate on a bipartisan basis with the chairman designated by the president, currently has only three of its allotted five members. One of those, union lawyer Craig Becker, is a recess appointee, meaning he was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate and must leave the board at the end of the year. The rush to approve the change in the union election rules is thought to coincide with Becker's looming departure since the board must have at least three members in order to have a quorum to do anything. The board's lone GOP member, Brian Hayes, could resign, putting a stop to the NLRB's latest gambit, but it seems a high price to pay.
Moreover, this should not be seen in isolation from other Obama administration initiatives. As Phil Kerpen documents in his excellent new book Democracy Denied, what the NLRB is doing is not the action of one rogue agency or a few envelope-pushing employees so much as it is a deliberate strategy to use the federal government's regulatory powers to achieve what Obama and his political supporters want without having to bother with going to Congress first.
As Kerpen explains, it's a serious and well-thought out effort involving the NLRB, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the rest of the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies that have the power to cripple the U.S. economy—and which are trying to give the labor unions, radical environmentalists, trial lawyers, liberal activists, and the rest of the Obama electoral coalition what they want.
It's also a dangerous way for a democracy to do business. Allowing unelected bureaucrats to write and impose rules and regulations with deliberate disregard for the opinion of Congress eats away at the foundation of our democratic system. It is not what the founders intended and it is not something either Congress nor the courts should allow to continue.