Bush Labor Board Issues Slew of Anti-Worker Decisions
In a shocking move that will set workers' rights back decades, the Bush Labor Board steamrolled America’s workers in September, issuing a sweeping set of decisions that stack the deck in favor of big business over working men and women.
• Make it harder for workers to form unions but easier to get rid of existing unions;
• Make it easier for employers to escape liability for breaking the law and weaken already ineffective remedies;
• Make it easier for employers to discriminate against union supporters and to replace strikers;
• Make it easier for employers to escape bargaining obligations.
The September decisions illustrate the overwhelmingly anti-worker and anti-union bias of the current Board majority, which has abandoned its statutory mission to protect workers’ right to form unions and promote collective bargaining. In a series of result-oriented decisions, the Bush Board has stripped workers of their rights and protected employers - - and with breathtaking bias.
• At a time when our working people are struggling as never before, these decisions further limit workers’ access to our nation’s strongest middle class supporting program – union membership.
The recent decisions:
Make it harder to form a union through majority sign up.
Because the system for forming unions in this country is broken, workers have increasingly formed unions using majority sign up — a majority of workers sign cards or a petition asking their employer to voluntarily recognize their union. New decisions from the Bush Board stripped such voluntary recognition of long-standing legal protections.
Now, if a majority of workers choose a union this way, the employer must notify the workforce of their right to have an election to overturn the union – even if bargaining has already begun. The Bush Board ruled that a handful of workers can stop the majority’s union from ever forming. A sharp dissent accused the majority of “cutting voluntary recognition off at the knees.” No such notification is required to inform workers of their right to HAVE a union.
Hypocritically, on the same day it issued this decision, the Bush Board found that its own election process is too burdensome when an employer’s WITHDRAWAL of recognition of the workers’ union is involved, and decided the workers’ signatures on a petition were sufficient.
Make it harder for workers who are illegally fired to recover back pay:
Labor Board remedies against employers who break the law are notoriously weak and ineffective—especially in the case of back pay awards to workers who have been illegally fired. Instead of using the authority it has to enforce the law more effectively, the Bush Board made it cheaper for employers to break the law by reversing 45 years of precedent and making it even harder for workers who are illegally fired to recover back pay. In one case, workers who were illegally discriminated against 17 years ago have still not received any back pay! In another, workers who were fired for supporting a union, and then picketed the company, were denied back pay when finally re-instated due to concerns of “reward(ing) idleness.” These rulings turn prior NLRB remedial policies on their head and require that Agency resources be diverted away from restoring workers’ rights and, instead, dedicated to helping law-breaking employers whittle down already pathetic back pay amounts.
Make it easier for employers to discriminate against union organizers:
The National Labor Relations Act was enacted to protect the right of workers to organize a union at their workplace. Decisions issued by the Bush Board in September make it easier for employers to prevent workers from organizing by making it legal for employers to discriminate against union supporters in the hiring process and legal to refuse to hire a worker who comes to the job intending to try to form a union.
Deny justice through delay:
Many of the 61 decisions issued in September involve workers who were illegally fired or discriminated against years ago — as long as 1989 — but who are still waiting for a remedy from the NLRB. Over a third have been pending for more than 5 years. A total of 33 decisions — more than half those issued — had been pending at least four years.
Continue Bush Board’s attack on worker rights:
The September decisions continue and magnify trends that started when a Bush-appointed majority took control of the NLRB in 2001. These decisions illustrate how badly broken the nation’s labor law system has become, and further spotlight the need for the Employee Free Choice Act.
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