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OPINION

Defund wasteful, corrupt NLRB

Heather Greenaway

It’s no secret the Obama administration’s National Labor Relations Board is stacked with union bosses, doing more to promote Big Labor than protect American workers. But did you know they were terrible stewards of taxpayer dollars, as well?

An audit just released by the agency’s inspector general shows that not only has the NLRB run roughshod over workers’ rights but it has been lavishly spending taxpayer funds at extravagant board conferences, too — all while the board comes together to conspire on more ways to infringe on America’s business community and diminish worker rights.

According to the audit, such wasteful spending included line items for Starbucks coffee totaling $6.48 per eight-ounce cup, designer fruit juices at $6.10 per bottle, granola bars for $4.47 a pop and $5.80 per piece scones served with “Devonshire cream,” to name one selection — a lineup sounding more like the refreshments provided at a corporate retreat than a government conference.

The inspector general thought so, too, and has determined that “four of the five conferences with break refreshments exceeded the contracting officer’s reasonableness guidelines for the expenditure of appropriated funds for food,” and that an excess of $20,225.37 for food and bartending — yes, bartending — services were unapproved and in question.

Aside from that, the inspector general also found that the NLRB had improperly approved training for its employees taking college courses toward a degree, when the NLRB doesn’t even have an academic degree program. These approvals of college courses were not supported by proper documentation, resulting in $36,095.60 in questioned costs.

These expenditures are a sharp departure from the tone of the agency’s 2015 congressional budget request, where it writes, “The NLRB prides itself on being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.”

And from the congressional testimony of Richard Griffin Jr., the NLRB’s general counsel told Congress in May 2015 that the “agency has taken a number of proactive steps to ensure that we are serving the public in the most effective and fair manner possible” and “I assure you that, in fiscal year 2016, the agency will continue to ensure that our congressional mandate is executed, and in a fair, timely and quality manner.”

It’s laughable. Clearly, the government bureaucrats who determine the rules and regulations for America’s workforce don’t think government rules and regulations apply to them. And they have no hesitation sticking workers, small businesses and now taxpayers with the bill.

If the NLRB is supposed to be a “check” on American business, who stands to serve as a check on it? The answer should be Congress. Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate have long fought to compel the agency to do more to respect the rights of workers and small businesses — but now it’s clear they must do more to respect America’s hardworking taxpayers as well.

Whether it is taking steps forcibly to unionize workers while passing rules speeding up union elections or rewriting decades of defined labor policies in order to push people into mini collective bargaining units, Obama’s reckless NLRB has fundamentally altered the state of the American workforce and rigged the system on Big Labor’s behalf. We shouldn’t be picking up the tab for their $6.48 cup of coffee and $5.80 scone, while at the same time the NLRB erodes worker rights.

Enough is enough. It’s high time Congress curb the agency’s expensive tastes and excessive power, and take immediate steps to defund Obama’s wasteful, corrupt NLRB.

Heather Greenaway is a national spokeswoman for the Workforce Fairness Institute.