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Chairman Graves in the Kansas City Star: Micro-Unions and Ambush Elections: Two Very Bad Ideas from Labor Regulators

Washington, Mar 31 -

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Micro-Unions and Ambush Elections: Two Very Bad Ideas from Labor Regulators
By Chairman Sam Graves

The rules to kickball are fairly simple. You kick the ball and then run to the base. If the ball beats you to the bag, or you get tagged, then you are out. It’s a lot like baseball. But what if the umpire changed those rules in the middle of the game? What if the umpire made more rules that cost your team time and money to comply with?

What if the rules seemed to be structured to help the other team score?

That would certainly make the game less fun and fewer people would want to play. Unfortunately for too many small businesses, this isn’t an off-the-wall scenario, it’s reality.

In 2007, a bill known as “card check” — allowing the creation of union bargaining units without secret-ballot elections — passed the House. It did not come to a vote in the Senate. Yet much of what wasn’t passed into law is being enacted through agency regulations.

The National Labor Relations Board recently handed down two rules I believe will make it much more difficult for small businesses to survive.

The first allows the formation of micro-unions. These unions could be made up of two to three workers. A small business owner would have to spend money and resources fighting professional union organizers.

Can you imagine different parts of a grocery store belonging to different unions? Would it make sense for the cashiers to belong to one union, the meat department belonging to another one and the stocking clerks belonging to a different one? How could a small business owner keep up with all the different groups?

Another new rule concerns quickie or ambush elections. These are elections that are scheduled and conducted in a shortened time frame. The small business owners may be caught unaware and have little or no time to tell their side of the story.

An important decision like unionization shouldn’t be rushed. Employers should have time to give their side of the story and employees should have enough time to weigh both sides.

The NLRB has also proposed to make it easier for unions to get private information on employees from the company. This is a breach of trust. Those employees could be subjected to constant and aggressive lobbying on their home telephones, emails or at their doorsteps.

I believe that if an employee wants to give out their information, they should be able to. However, I do not believe employers should be required to hand over personal information without the employee’s consent.

What’s missing from all these rules is common sense. The National Labor Relations Board seems to be tipping the rules of the game in favor of big labor. I believe that micro-unions and ambush elections do little to help workers, but can be devastating to small businesses.

In November, the House passed H.R. 3094, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, to overturn these new NRLB rules. The Senate has an opportunity to do the same with the companion bill, S. 1843.

I hope the Senate will join us in this common sense proposal to keep the rules of the game fair.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, a Republican from Tarkio, represents Missouri’s 6th District and is the chairman of the House Small Business Committee.

Read the Op-ed Online HERE