01.21.2014 0

Walmart, Big Labor and the NLRB: Time for a change

UFCW Slams WalmartBy Rick Manning

Organizing Walmart has been the Great White Whale for Big Labor for the past twenty years.  Now, thanks to Obama appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Big Labor is having some life breathed into their efforts.

The most recent decision revolves around the NLRB’s decision to investigate the nation’s leading retailer’s treatment of about 60 employees who participated in Black Friday “strikes” against the retailer.

These walk-outs by non-unionized employees who both chose to work at Walmart, and to protest having to work on the biggest retail sales day of the year, got the blessing of the labor union dominated Board in November, when it decided to allow the distribution of gift cards from unions to offset lost wages for those who left their employer in the lurch.

And all this occurred after the NLRB set the stage for the Black Friday 2013 “strike” by refusing to penalize the United Food and Commercial Worker Union instigators for their actions in 2012.

Far from being a neutral arbiter of employment disputes, the NLRB has shown itself to be little more than the investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury on behalf of international labor unions against the giant retailer.

While the NLRB pursues actions against Walmart, the Board finds itself under attack on both legal and legislative fronts.

The U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding a case (NLRB v. Noel Canning) where the legitimacy of decisions and actions made by the Board over most of the past three years are being decided.  The Court will decide if President Obama exceeded his authority when he appointed Members to the NLRB without gaining the consent of the Senate using the “recess” appointment process.  If the Court decides that Obama improperly placed Members on the NLRB, decisions made by those Members will likely be thrown out as well.

Literally hundreds of cases would have to be decided again by the current, lawfully constituted majority, putting a damper on the body’s ability to handle additional adjudicatory actions until the backlog is cleared.

On the legislative front, Representative Austin Scott (R-GA) has introduced legislation which would take away the NLRB’s ability to serve as prosecutor, judge and jury of future employment law cases.  The legislation which had more than 70 co-sponsors in 2012, is expected to gain additional momentum as the Supreme Court case nears a decision in June.

In the meantime, the NLRB pro-Big Labor majority, will continue leading the charge on behalf of the International United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union’s quest to compel Walmart employees to pay dues into their shrinking coffers.

Big Labor versus Big Business battles have gone on for more than one hundred years, and the ebb and flo of that battle has been part and parcel to the American story.  However, it is time to end forcing the taxpayers to take sides in this legal fight that ultimately the federal courts should decide.

Congress needs to take action by passing the Austin Scott legislation this summer and put an end to the NLRB’s taxpayer funded legal action against either business or labor unions.  It is high time that these two behemoths use their own money for lawyers, and go directly to the federal courts rather than wasting time going through the arcane NLRB administrative judge process prior to accessing the real courts.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government 

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