(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.)
The Biden Gang continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for organized labor — and keeps on taking from the rest of us.
Again last week, the president lived up to his campaign promise to make his the most “pro-union administration you’ve ever seen” when it came out that Jennifer Abruzzo, his hand-picked National Labor Relations Board counsel, had authored a memo in which she asserted it is an unfair labor practice for a private-sector employer to hold a meeting at which employees are warned about the potentially negative impacts a decision to form a union might have on their workplace.
If the name sounds familiar, Abruzzo is the former National Communications Workers operative appointed to the post after Biden abruptly terminated Trump-appointee Peter Robb — whose term hadn’t even expired — within minutes of taking the oath of office.
For the record, it is already illegal for an employer to “encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.” However, per the NLRB’s 1948 ruling in Babcock and Wilcox, the agency has consistently upheld a company’s right to require employees on company time to attend meetings at which management’s views on unionization are communicated.
Congress agreed, amending the National Labor Relations Act to recognize that the corporate expression of “…any views, argument or opinion, or the dissemination thereof … shall not constitute or be evidence of an unfair labor practice.”
“But no matter,” notes a blistering April 12 editorial in the Wall Street Journal. It continues:
“Ms. Abruzzo’s memo pronounces, 74 years later, that the NLRB ‘incorrectly’ decided Babcock & Wilcox and that mandatory meetings on company time are ‘unlawful.’ She says such meetings force workers to listen to ‘employer speech under threat of discipline,’ violating their ‘right to not listen to such speech.’ ”
Abruzzo’s brazen assault on the First Amendment is at least the second time in just over a year in office that President Biden has attempted to repeal Babcock and Wilcox by executive fiat. His so-called “Peoples’ Right to Organize Act”, or PRO Act, would have the same effect, but it remains stalled in Congress with even moderate Democrats recoiling from the audacity of its giveaways to the president’s benefactors in organized labor.
For her part, Abruzzo isn’t even waiting for the Senate-confirmed NLRB board to vote on her mandate. Apparently, she takes her cue from Biden, who’s on pace to issue almost 350 executive orders during his first term alone. Just for historical context, Ronald Reagan is widely criticized by the Left for issuing 381 spread over eight years. (The all-time chutzpah champions, however, remain liberal icons Franklin Roosevelt, who wrote 3,721 in just over three terms, and Woodrow Wilson, who somehow managed to bypass Congress 1,803 times in just two terms).
What makes the president’s actions all the more galling is that the exact opposite behavior is callously sanctioned in the public sector.
In Washington state, to cite perhaps the most egregious example, a state law allows government employee unions to conduct a 30-minute meeting with each new hire, during which the workers are subjected to a high-pressure pitch to join the union designated as the sole bargaining representative for the agency at which they will be employed.
These arm-twisting sessions are technically voluntary, but that information is rarely shared with the new employees. Consequently, nearly everyone attends — and more than a few leave traumatized.
In keeping with this policy of indoctrination, a request earlier this year from the Freedom Foundation to offer a 15-minute presentation giving the employees an alternative, fact-based appraisal of their rights was summarily rejected by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
Union organizers conducting these captive-audience meetings have even been caught on audiotape leveling demonstrably false accusations against the Freedom Foundation.
Even worse, other tapes document attendees being assured union participation is still required for all government employees, even though the practice was banned by U.S. Supreme Court rulings including Janus v. AFSCME (2018).
The Freedom Foundation has since filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor and Industries, as well as its assistant director of human resources, because the agency denied its request to offer an alternative to the unions’ blatant, unchallenged recruiting activities.
If it’s suddenly an illegal labor practice for a private-sector employer to require attendance at a meeting during which the implications of unionization are openly discussed, shouldn’t the same standard apply to government workers? Doesn’t a taxpayer-supported public agency have an even greater obligation to expose its new employees to both sides of a contested issue, or must a heaping dose of union propaganda suffice?
Since Janus, tens of thousands of government employees have exercised their newly affirmed rights to decline union membership and dues. Strongarm tactics like those employed by the state of Washington and, more recently, by the union operative appointed by President Biden to oversee the nation’s labor policy make it easy to see why.
Jeff Rhodes is the Vice President of News and Information at the Freedom Foundation. www.FreedomFoundation.com
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