National Labor Relations Board — oh my …

When Boeing decided to build the new plant in a right to work state several years ago, unions filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Republicans responded by threatening to cut their budget by as much a $49 million. There was no talk about reforming the NLRB, and some whispers about eliminating it altogether.

Do the American people truly understand what the NLRB was supposed to do and thru political manipulation, what an aberration it has become?

When George Bush was president, the NLRB was accused of being anti-union and employer friendly by the left. Now, the right accuses the NLRB of being the puppet of unions and anti-business. The NLRB was formed to enforce the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. The Act protects the workers’ right to organize a union, bargain collectively and to strike. Fair enough.

Rebecca Smith is a contributor to The Brenner Brief and an expert on union issues. Twitter: @unionhypocrisy

Rebecca Smith is a contributor to The Brenner Brief and an expert on union issues. Twitter: @unionhypocrisy

However, by the late 1940s unions had become powerful. They became abusive towards employers, non-union workers and their own members. Congress decided to amend the act to develop a more balanced national labor policy and to end the union’s abuse of power. Obviously, we had a more responsible congress at the time. The way the act was amended in 1947 (Taft-Hartley Act), the main thrust of the NLRB is to protect both non-union and unionized workers.  It has two principal duties: to conduct secret-ballot elections in which employees can choose to be represented by a union or not; and, to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices committed by either employers or unions.

When an entity that was created to protect the workers no longer does, then what is the reason for it to still exist? The NLRB should be vastly revamped or eliminated.

In the case of eliminating the NLRB, the government would save over $282 million. That might be small change by D.C. standards, but if we can be nickel and dimed in spending, we can do the same with savings.

Alternatively, the best answer is to revamp. Just because the current NLRB is a twisted political nightmare does not mean that it can’t be saved and cut costs at the same time.

The DOL’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) should enforce the Act. The FMCS is designed to advance the nation’s welfare through effective settlements, improved labor-management relations and conflict resolution. Dispute mediation and other conflict resolution services are the tools and techniques used by FMCS to promote collective bargaining, strengthen labor-management relations, and enhance organizational effectiveness.  To become a mediator for the FMCS, you must have endorsements from both unions and employers.

Instead of the NLRB being made up of political appointees, or mediators would rotate every two years to occupy the seats on the Board.  Take away the political influence and you have a functioning NLRB. The FMCS may have to hire some additional mediators to fill the gaps left by mediators serving on the Board, but it would come at a cheaper rate than what we pay the current Board members. Scales for 2011 set the base salaries at $71,674 for a GS-13, step 1 employee, to $93,175 for a GS-13, step 10.

Until we put pressure on congress to reform the National Labor Relations Board, we will continue to pay for a renegade government operation that is interpreting labor law to benefit their political agenda, not the American workers. Both political parties refuse to take steps at reform because both are guilty of using the NLRB to promote their own agendas when they are in power.

We cannot complain about the NLRB’s socialist agenda if we refuse to fix it. With EFCA threatening to make a comeback thru the NLRB’s administrative authority, we may be on our way to our own the currency of the European Union.

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