Union Bosses Should Imagine A World Without Obama's NLRB

“If the workers surrender control over working relations to legislative and
administrative agents, they put their industrial liberty
at the disposal of state agents.”

Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, 1915


NLRB Building

Union bosses may soon be facing a labor relations climate not seen in nearly 80 years–a world where there is no government agency for union bosses to run to. If that occurs, while many will proclaim their indignation, the reality is, a world without the NLRB may not be a bad thing–for unions.

Following the 2010 mid-term elections, union bosses saw their dream of getting legislation passed to effectively eliminate secret-ballot elections die. As an alternative, Barack Obama used “recess appointments” of union stalwarts to the National Labor Relations Board to begin implementing their Plan B Strategy in order to rewrite labor law by regulatory fiat.

Now, following the U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Obama’s appointments as unconstitutional, today’s union bosses may face an environment not seen since the 1930s–a nation without the National Labor Relations Board.

Currently, the NLRB is due to file its writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court by April 25th. This means that, unless the Court expedites the NLRB case, the issue may not be heard until October. If this happens, the Court’s decision may not be issued until January 2014.

If the Court rules that Obama’s “recess” appointments were constitutional, then it will be business as usual at the NLRB–employers will face “ambush” elections and union bosses will jumping with glee.

If, however, the Court rules against the NLRB, it will effectively undo all of the NLRB’s decisions issued since January 2012–and perhaps all the way back to the 2010 appointment of SEIU and AFL-CIO attorney Craig Becker.


More importantly, given the current NLRB’s penchant for punishing job creators and its push to remake the rules for unions, there is a real possibility that the Senate will not confirm any new members (or at least those currently re-nominated by Obama) until after the mid-term elections and, potentially, not at all.

This would effectively shut down the NLRB’s ability to administer the law until, possibly, a new President is elected and sworn into office and new agency members nominated and confirmed.

While this may be far-fetched, it is theoretically possible. Moreover, it may not be a bad thing for unions to return to their roots. That is, for union bosses to become less reliant on the government to be their benefactor may be something that would actually be good for unions.

If, by not having a government benefactor, it causes union bosses to re-evaluate how they could better serve America’s workers by not continuing to cause employers to outsource, close up, move out, or automate, unions might actually stand a chance.

Once upon a time, the leaders of America’s union leaders opposed laws that regulated labor relations. They did so for a reason:

Labor leaders like Samuel Gompers knew that, with government involvement comes government control and, all-to-often, that pendulum would swing both ways. At times, The State would be for “the working man” and, at other times, the state would be against “the working man.”

Today’s union bosses–those who have embraced the tenets of socialism that Gompers fought so hard against–should learn from Gompers philosophy of voluntarism and self-reliance.


While voluntarism and self-reliance would certainly be a “radical” idea for them. However, if union bosses were to actually learn the lessons of history, unions might actually have some value in 21st century society.

I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty – the principles of voluntarism. No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which, united, is invincible. . . . I want to say to you, men and women of the American labor movement, do not reject the cornerstone upon which labor’s structure has been builded – but base your all upon voluntary principles and illumine your every problem by consecrated devotion to that highest of all purposes – human well being in the fullest, widest, deepest sense.”
(From “Gompers’ Creed,” Samuel Gompers’ last AFL convention) Source. [Emphasis added.]

“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

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