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Latest News - September 2011

September 4, 2011
Country needs jobs, not pro-union posters
Source: Boston Herald
By: Diana Furchtgott-roth

WASHINGTON — It’s almost Labor Day. Unemployment hovers above 9 percent. President Obama plans to address Congress next week, and this time he’s promising some real ideas about how to increase employment.

At the same time, the National Labor Relations Board is making sure that un-employment remains high in America. Just in time for the Labor Day holiday, the National Labor Relations Board is giving employers a “gift” of more labor — for them to perform.

As if employers weren’t burdened with enough paperwork, the board will now require employers to put up 11-by-17-inch posters informing workers of their right to unionize. Whether the board has the authority in law to require employers to put up posters is in dispute. Sooner or later, this issue may be tested in the courts.

Requiring posters won’t benefit the 14 million un-employed Americans, but it is yet another message to employers that the administration regards them with hostility and suspicion. Other countries do not require these posters and welcome American businesses to hire their workers.

In a notice in the Federal Register on Aug. 30, to take effect Nov. 14, the board made final a rule it first proposed in December 2010.

The “poster rule” must be regarded as the swan song of Wilma B. Liebman, the former chairman, and a board member since President Clinton appointed her in 1997. Her term has just expired.

Ms. Liebman is an ardent believer in unions and their ability to raise the incomes of workers who choose to join them. And so in this regulation, she seeks to require employers to apprise their employees that they have a right to organize.

In a lack of symmetry, the board does not require employers with union shops to inform their workers that they have a right to ask for a decertification vote to kick out a union. Nor that workers have a right to a refund of the portion of their dues used for political contributions. These omissions appear to be symptomatic of a tilt toward union bosses and against workers under Obama.

The posters don’t convey what workers may lose from unionizing, such as the ability to earn individual merit raises. They don’t point out that collective bargaining can result in lower pay and job loss for some workers. The required poster size, 11 by 17 inches, is larger than is required for notices for minimum wage, employee polygraph protection, family medical leave, equal employment opportunity and other employee rights guaranteed by Congress.

If 20 percent or more employees are most comfortable speaking a language other than English, an additional poster in translation must go up.

If the employer fails to display the poster, the board can declare the employer guilty of an “unfair labor practice.” There’s no fine, but unfair labor practices can be held against an employer in the case of a dispute with the union or a drive to organize a workplace with no union relationship. The requirement applies to all private workplaces, no matter how few employees. However, re-tailers with less than $500,000 in gross sales are exempt, as are nonretail businesses with less than $50,000 in out of state sales or purchases.

Liebman defended the rule in a New York Times [NYT] interview by saying that collective bargaining puts more money in workers’ pockets, in-creasing purchasing power and cre-ating a stronger economy.

Workers don’t seem to believe this, which may be why Liebman wants the poster. Every year, fewer American workers choose to belong to unions. The fraction of all American workers belonging to unions is less than 7 percent, compared with 35 percent in the mid-1950s.

Workers are voting with their feet. They are mi-grating from unionized states to right-to-work states, where by law they cannot be required to join a union as a condition of work. As a result of population shifts in the 2010 Census, nine congressional seats will move to right-to-work states from forced unionization states in 2012. Winners include Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina, while losers are New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and New Jersey.

Over the past 25 years, right-to-work states have created more than twice as many jobs as unionized states. Recall that it was unionized General Motors and Chrysler that needed federal bailouts in 2008 and 2009, not Toyota, Honda, Nissan and BMW, located in right-to-work states in the South.

On Thursday, the day after Republican presidential candidates debate at the Reagan Library, millions of un-employed Americans will watch Mr. Obama’s speech to Congress. They desperately want to hear him explain how employers are going to offer them real jobs. Mr. Obama, tear down those posters.

 

 


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