Column: Labor board should help small businesses
It’s been a tough few years for businesses in Michigan. It feels like every time we turn around, there’s some new federal law or regulation imposed on small business owners. This stifles economic growth and job creation, and makes it harder to operate a business.
Much of this is because of several decisions passed down by a fiercely partisan, supposedly independent federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Under former President Obama, the NLRB was a board stacked with Big Labor advocates — and because of this, we’ve seen several disastrous decisions that have promoted an activist agenda and undermined decades of established law surrounding collective bargaining.
For example, despite the fact that under previous rules, 95 percent of union elections were held in less than two months — allowing employers the time needed to hire outside counsel and speak with their employees about what unionization would mean for their particular place of work — the NLRB instituted a rule which sped up these elections to as few as nine days. Union campaigns could organize and coordinate for months, then ambush an unsuspecting employer with an election, leaving workers virtually no time to consider the issues and make an informed choice.
The board’s micro-union decision further tipped the scales. Through the decision, the board ruled that sub-units of a workplace could form “micro-unions,” as opposed to unionizing a workplace as a whole. By changing the traditional bargaining unit standard, Big Labor was able to self-select workers predisposed to unionization and group them together to achieve successful outcomes.
Fortunately, the tides have turned. With a Republican majority in Congress and President Donald Trump in the White House, our leaders in Washington are presented an important opportunity to reverse these decisions, and restore balance to our labor laws and regulations.
Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions, has taken the lead championing the rollback of excessive rules and tapering down Obama-era regulations. He’s opposing board overreach, even calling for NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin to step down from his post earlier this year for advancing ridiculous notions that scholarship football players at Division I private colleges and universities are considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act. Walberg is also co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the last-minute “Blacklisting Rule,” which would have made it harder for small businesses to compete for federal contracts. It’s time to move the NLRB in a new direction and restore sanity to our labor laws — so that small businesses can succeed and prosper.
Jimmy Greene is president & CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, Greater Michigan.