Filibuster ‘Reform’ Is a Gift to Big Labor | Commentary

Posted May 1, 2013 at 4:00am

Brace yourself: The real winner in the renewed conversation on so-called filibuster reform is union bosses. Unsurprisingly, should Big Labor’s allies in the United States Senate change the rules regarding how federal nominations are handled, it will be at the expense of America’s small businesses. And with vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, Big Labor is salivating at the chance to advance its agenda by ramming through President Barack Obama’s nominees.

Even though, to everyday Americans, the NLRB is a little-known (and so-called independent) agency, it wields outsized influence over the nation’s economy as it referees matters between labor and business in the private sector. But the Obama Labor Board has focused on undoing decades of precedent and rewriting workplace regulations that Congress would not adopt, such as the creation of small collective-bargaining units under one employer’s roof known as “micro-unions.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The board attempted to create an “ambush” election rule that hurries the collective-bargaining process so significantly that workers are not able to receive all the information and hear the complete arguments from both labor and business when making a decision concerning the formation of a collective-bargaining unit. It was only when a federal judge found that the NLRB did not have a proper quorum that the quickie election rule was stopped.

The Obama administration has time and again jammed job-killing policies — such as the formation of micro-unions — though this board. But their efforts have been temporarily sidetracked by a decision reached in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which found the “recess” appointments made by the president in the summer of 2012 were unconstitutional since the Senate was not, in fact, in recess and convening regularly. The NLRB’s chairman disregarded the ruling almost immediately after it was announced, and the board has continued to operate in defiance of the court.

But, according to the D.C. Circuit Court, to which all board cases can be appealed, the NLRB is officially down to one legitimate member, meaning it does not have a lawful quorum requiring three people, which now seemingly provides the president the opportunity to appeal to his allies in the upper chamber and change the rules governing executive branch nominations in order to stack the deck with three rigid union partisans.

In fact, Obama already re-nominated Richard Griffin and Sharon Block — the two members unconstitutionally appointed last year. Griffin is the former general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and was recently mentioned in the portion of a racketeering and embezzlement lawsuit dealing with a cover-up. And according to Fox News, the “rap sheet for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers reads like something out of ‘Goodfellas.’ Embezzlement. Wire fraud. Bribery. That’s just scratching the surface of crimes committed by the IUOE ranks.”

It is also worth mentioning that other special interests are salivating over the idea of President Obama being able to pack the courts with an army of liberal activist judges — who would receive lifetime appointments with little scrutiny and would be able to write laws from the bench that stand no chance of passage in the Congress.

So now, the Senate filibuster could be the last line of defense against keeping these job-killing policies, or, worse, full implementation of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) from becoming law at the hands of unelected government bureaucrats. EFCA was sought by union bosses in 2009 and 2010 and failed miserably when both Republicans and Democrats opposed the legislation, which economists found would cost the nation more than 600,000 jobs in the first year alone. Card check — as the legislation is known to many — would virtually eliminate the secret ballot and empower government to mandate contracts on employees and employers alike if an agreement has not been reached shortly after a collective-bargaining unit has been formed.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted that if “Republicans in the Senate  . . .  don’t start helping get some of these nominations done,” then he would consider changing the rules surrounding filibusters. His threats are echoed by others, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who said, “I hate to suggest this, but if this is an indication of where we’re headed, we need to revisit the [filibuster] rules again.”

Make no mistake, any changes to the filibuster rules would be a direct payback to Big Labor bosses, who spent nearly $1 billion in the 2008 and 2012 elections. And the impact of the policies enacted by an unrestrained Obama Labor Board on our economy would be dire.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.