Clinton's Labor Legacy; Bush NLRB Is AWOL

Article excerpt


As Big Labor bosses scream bloody murder about decisions by Bush administration appointees on labor law issues, they are actually breathing a collective sigh of relief this Labor Day. Despite a few minor rulings reining in union abuse, union officials are still winning their war against employee free choice.

By way of background, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the federal agency charged with administering the National Labor Relations Act, a law that grants union officials sweeping privileges to organize workers into union collectives.

But the Bush NLRB has been AWOL since the beginning. Despite more than five years of Republican rule, dozens of precedent-setting Clinton NLRB rulings remain unchanged. These activist decisions strengthened union coercive power over employees and employers alike, entrenched unions in workplaces where they do not enjoy the support of a majority of employees, and allowed for the rampant misuse of forced union dues for politics.

In short, although a Democratic majority on the NLRB is naturally expected to favor the interests of union officials over rank-and-file employees, the Clinton board turned American labor law on its head. According to an analysis by Jones Day attorney G. Roger King prepared for the American Bar Association, from 1994 to 2001 the Clinton NLRB overturned 60 long-standing cases throwing a jaw-dropping 1,181 years of combined precedent out the window.

In spite of this, President Bush's appointees have yet to right the ship, reversing fewer than eight Clinton NLRB precedents.

And the Bush board's dereliction of duty has reached ridiculous levels. In one long-pending case, employees are pleading for the board's protection from union coercion 17 years after initiating their charges.

Raising questions of gross negligence and bureaucratic deadlock, the NLRB has failed to issue a final ruling in the case of David and Sherry Pirlott initiated in 1989 with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation against the Teamsters Local 75 union in Green Bay, Wisc. The Pirlotts' complaint is the oldest of scores of cases in which foundation-assisted employees are trying to reclaim their forced union dues illegally spent on non-bargaining activities like union political efforts.

Since the Pirlotts filed their original charge, the Berlin Wall fell, the American public voted in four presidential elections, and six new justices have been appointed to the U. …