Surprisingly, most unions were slow in reacting over the past several years to the pro-union NLRB. It seemed as if unions were content on allowing the NLRB to do their heavy lifting. I fully expected unions to file more unfair labor practice charges (since the Board rarely found in favor of an employer), more petitions for elections (since unions win a greater percent of elections post-ambush election rules), and an overall increase in general union agitation against employers (since the NLRB seemed to condone whatever antics unions pulled). But, alas, what I saw was unions calling the same plays from their tired playbook.
Then I came across an article written by a pro-union person that said, “The next few years will demonstrate why unions tend to view the NLRB as a hopeless venue for workers’ rights and a place where organizing campaigns go to die.” According to him, “There is a macho component to labor’s preference to organize and bargain without appealing” to NLRB intervention. Unions, if you want to survive, stop being like the men on the Titanic – ask them about machismo – oh wait, you can’t, they went down with the ship.
Unions need the NLRB in order to thrive, and they do themselves no favors by not taking the Board seriously. As someone who represents companies, I assure you that my side spent the last 8 years honing our agenda for a post-Obama NLRB. Unions many never have such a staunchly pro-union NLRB, Congress, and White House again. But if you do, are you prepared to advocate for a resumption of equal time captive audience meetings, a prohibition on replacement workers, card check, and many of former union initiatives that you failed to put before the Obama-NLRB?
Unions and their allies should be convening research teams to plot out a campaign of regulatory and judicial activism. But, it doesn’t appear that such grassroots work is being done yet. Instead, they’re content being 6-months into Trump’s presidency and having the pro-union majority Obama-NLRB continuing to do the unions’ heavy dirty work.
Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 285-5342 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com