The PJ Tatler

Rep. John Kline Moves Legislation to Rein in the National Labor Relations Board (Updated)

Rep. John Kline (R-MN) held a conference call this afternoon to detail the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act.The Act would address and undo some recent rulings made by the National Labor Relations Board. Kline blasted the board and President Obama for their “assault” on employers and employees.

Rep. Kline described the National Labor Relations Board as “very busy,” in an “absolute rush” to issue sweeping rulings that will be “devastating” to the private sector. He said that the board is trying to move before Craig Becker’s term expires, and that according to Brian Hayes, the lone Republican member of the board, the Democratic majority has abused the system in moving so quickly. Kline singled out the Specialty Healthcare decision, which would allow micro-unions to form in workplaces where a majority of workers have not elected to unionize. Coupled with the board’s “snap elections” decision, employers could quickly find themselves negotiating with a host of unions even among relatively small workplaces. There is a Senate bill that would scuttle that decision, but the Democrats control the Senate at the moment. Kline said that the NLRB’s actions are among the “blizzard” of regulations coming from the Obama administration at the private sector, regulations which have created a great deal of fear and uncertainty in the economy. All tolled, Kline said that the Obama administration is moving on 219 new regulations that each could impact the economy by more than $100 million.

Kline’s Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act would slow down the NRLB’s “snap” elections and reinstate traditional union voting standards, while protecting worker privacy. One NLRB rule change would allow unions to obtain very intrusive private information on workers in workplaces considering unionization. It’s not difficult to see how unions might abuse access to such information. Kline’s Act would allow the workers to determine which personal information the unions would be able to obtain.

Rep. Kline announced that the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act passed out of committee in the House along a party line vote. It still faces a floor vote in the House and action in the US Senate, before it could move on to the president’s desk for a signature.

I asked Klein whether, in the current environment, his legislation would really make a difference. He acknowledged that the Senate still has to pass it, but he added that the GOP is moving to curb the NLRB’s actions along three lines; legislation such as his bill, by filing lawsuits to halt some actions, and through the congressional oversight process. Kline said “elections have consequences,” noting that President Obama could move to stop the board but has chosen not to. Kline added that there aren’t enough Republicans in Congress (meaning the Senate) to fully rein in the NLRB yet.

Update: Kline’s Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act was actually introduced on Oct. 5. Now that it’s out of committee, it could get a floor vote as early as tomorrow.