One must wonder why we need both a Department of Labor and a Department of Commerce. Aren’t those things that are good for “commerce” also good for “labor.”
[Source: When Pro-Business Is Pro-Labor, by John C. Goodman and How Trump Can Curb the Power of Unelected Regulators, by Trey Kovaks]
Is being “pro labor” the equivalent of being “pro union?” In 2013 (the most recent data I could find) only 11% of private sector workers were members of labor unions. How is it that this small percentage wield so much power? (Yes, I know – money, but there are other matters with which the next administration must contend.)
Labor market regulations that help union workers often do so at the expense of other workers. When the need to regulate rears its ugly head in Washington, DC, the fast food industry is typically used as whipping boy. However, the fast food industry is highly competitive. Mr. Goodman quotes (as one fast food restaurant manager explained to him), “If you don’t pay the going wage or if you skimp on benefits or mistreat your employees, they’ll go across the street and work for your competitor.”
The best thing for “workers” is a labor market with millions of new jobs. This enables workers to apply their ultimate power. And what is that, ask you? To be able to tell their boss, “Take this job and shove it!” answer I. Then, go across the street and get a good, and possibly better, job!
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which governs private-sector labor relations, was originally formed to act as an impartial agency that represents the public in labor disputes. However, the agency has become overly political and prone to playing favorites (i.e., labor unions when there is a Democrat in the White House).
Recent research from Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute found that the Obama NLRB overturned a combined total of 4,559 years of board precedent.
The NLRB has been imposing its will in a variety of ways. At the top of the list is to issue massive and costly subpoenas. This, of course, is only one abuse the board has recently made common practice. In 2014, a Pennsylvania district court judge explicitly described a set of NLRB subpoenas as “overly broad,” “massive,” and “unduly burdensome,” and said that compliance would be “extensive, expensive, [and] time-consuming.” However, they have not stopped.
Another favored technique is to drag an employer through an expensive court case even when the NLRB knows the employer would ultimately win. Recently, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia found the board guilty of “bad faith litigation” and forced it to pay Michigan-based employer Heartland Health Care Center’s legal fees. But, of course, they pay with your money and other businesses get the very explicit message, “We’ll come after you too unless you tow the line!”
Remarkably, even the appeals court’s opinion stated that the board pursued this case knowing it would lose because it wanted to send employers a message: “Even if we think you will win, we will still make you pay.”
One of the things I will enjoy most over the next four years is watching Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, put an end to federal strong-arm techniques meant to “stick it to businesses they don’t like.”