Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

23 April 2011

The Purpose of the National Labor Relations Board is to Deny Cooperation

As I just wrote in my last post, the benefits of society reside in our freedom of association with others of our choosing for purposes of our choosing.  This fundamental right allows us to cooperate with others in exchanges of mutual benefit so that we might all prosper and live more secure and richer lives.  In this process, we are constantly exchanging values, which we must evaluate and rank using our minds.  We succeed in these exchanges best when we think rationally.  Government properly imposes limits on private action to keep individuals from using force to affect these exchanges so that they are voluntary and people are free to only make exchanges they see as beneficial to them.  Unfortunately, governments also commonly use force to force individuals to make exchanges of values they would not make voluntarily.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an especially egregious actor in forcing involuntary associations and involuntary exchanges of values.  Long-established laws have given this board the power to force individuals and associations of individuals owning companies to enter into labor exchanges with labor unions rather than individual employees whenever a majority of the employees vote to join a union.  In many cases, states force those who do not want to be union members to pay union dues nonetheless.  The states that do not force individuals to join the union when the union wins an election, are called Right to Work states.  The Right to Work states preserve a larger measure of the individual employee's right to associate than do the forced union states.  Some argue that the Right to Work laws interfere with a company's right to force its employees to be union members!  That argument is an example of how crazy things get once one allows the use of force to deprive individuals of their rights.  The NLRB has long been charged with depriving companies and individuals of the right to hire union workers or not and to force them to rehire union workers after strikes.  The NLRB also runs the elections in which the employees of a company vote to join or reject a union or accept a bargaining contract.  It places severe restrictions on the freedom of speech of companies during union elections as well.

The NLRB has been stacked by Obama to make it even more biased towards labor unions.  The NLRB's acting general counsel earlier this year threatened to sue South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, and South Dakota because the people of those states amended their constitutions to give their citizens the right to a secret ballot in unionization elections.  It is amazingly presumptuous that a minor federal agency can sue a state because its citizens have decided to protect their rights in their own state constitution.  The people acted because the Obama administration and unions backed a new law that would allow unionization elections to be performed without secret ballots, using what is called card checks.  This would have allowed union bosses to strong-arm employees one by one into signing up for the union without benefit of a secret ballot.  It would be as if Obama had complete lists of everyone who voted for him or against him and could thereafter award all government contracts only to those who voted for him and give entitlement benefits only to those who voted for him.  In addition, he could use the New Black Panther Party people he has refused to prosecute for polling place intimidation to make people vote for him in the first place.  One of the main reasons the labor unions supported Obama so strongly in his election was because they wanted card check and he had agreed to give it to them.  They were gambling heavily on this to turn around their loss of union membership in the private sector, where most employees have caught on to the fact that unions are very good at killing the companies for which the employees work.

Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina has introduced legislation to keep the NLRB from pursuing the threatened lawsuit.  He has 30 co-sponsors of the bill.  The NLRB's purpose is so wrongheaded that 176 members of the House of Representatives voted for an amendment by Tom Price of Georgia to completely defund the NLRB.  The freedom of association will always be impaired by this agency.

The most recent new threat to our freedom to cooperate by the NLRB is its claim that Boeing violated federal labor law by not building a production line for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft in Washington state.  The International Association of Machinists and the NLRB claim that Boeing's decision to build the production line in the Right to Work state of South Carolina was retaliation against the union because of its history of strikes that cost the company many billions of dollars.  The union and Obama's NLRB claim this is an infringement of the worker's right to strike.  That right to strike exists, but so does the right of the company not to hire the striking workers back.  Present law does not let the companies fire the strikers, which infringes the rights of the company owners.  Despite the many absurdities of the present law, the Supreme Court has ruled many times that companies can consider the negative effects of strikes when making their business decisions.  What is more, Boeing's present collective bargaining agreement with the IAM allows Boeing to build new plants outside of Washington without union approval.  This is apparently unusual for such union agreements, which only shows how unions have generally been able to impose themselves into company management.

The corrective action the NLRB is asking for is that Boeing be forced to build a 787 Dreamliner production facility in Washington state at great expense.  Boeing was considering building the facility in Washington, but they wanted a no-strike clause in their labor agreement with the union so they would have production stability in their on-going competition with EADS (Airbus) in Europe, which the union would not give them on any affordable terms.  The request for a ruling against Boeing comes when Boeing has nearly completed a new facility for the 787 in North Charleston, where jobs are much needed.  Boeing has already hired 1,000 workers there.  The announcement of their plan to build this plant was made 17 months ago.  Meanwhile, Boeing has hired 2,000 more workers in Washington state, so the union was not retaliated against in terms of a reduction of employees in Washington.  But the union bosses certainly are disappointed that they cannot collect union dues from the new South Carolina employees, since they voted not to join the union.  The first production of airliners in South Carolina is scheduled for July 2011.

The Obama crew, contrary to some reports, is not calling for the direct shutdown of the new largely built facility in South Carolina.  They are just imposing equal large costs to put a facility into Washington state with an equal number of employees, who will be union members.  They no doubt plan to use this fact to claim they are not killing the jobs in South Carolina or stopping the company from continuing its hiring there.  Despite not calling for the shutdown of the South Carolina facility, Boeing, Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Lindsay Graham, and Sen. Jim Demint are all protesting the interference of the NLRB.  But, the state of Washington is a better bet to give electoral votes to Obama than is the state of South Carolina in his re-election attempt, so Obama does not care.

Whenever government interferes with the individual right of association or the freedom to cooperate, it causes harm to our society.  This is a real social injustice done to many individuals.  The present action of Obama's NLRB is to try to intimidate companies against building new facilities where a union they have an agreement with does not want them to.  It is also an attempt to keep unionized businesses specifically from building new plants and facilities in Right to Work states.  These restrictions only serve to reduce the value a company can offer its customers in exchanges.  This will reduce the growth of the company and may cause it to fail, ending such union jobs as it presently supplies.

In any case, companies come and go and large companies are replaced by more nimble smaller companies all the time.  If the NLRB is allowed to keep unionized companies from expanding in Right to Work states, new companies will find even stronger incentives to plant themselves in Right to Work states and avoid union interference with their plant and facility siting decisions.  Unionized companies will have no choice but to put their new plants overseas, rather than in the United States.  Overseas companies will have reduced reason to establish new facilities in the U.S. and will stay out.  U.S. unemployment will be higher as a result.  Americans will find themselves with a lowered standard of living.

Of course the Obama Democrats have been talking about placing new taxes on companies who expand aboard instead of at home.  The strongest growth in the American economy now is precisely in companies with operations abroad or with high exports, such as many manufacturers.  The Obama taxes will be targeted at those companies and reduce their growth still more than our highest in the world corporate taxes and most onerous regulations have already done.  These wrongheaded Democrat Socialists are just one economic disaster after another.


Atlanta Roofing said...

Unionism = Communism. Time for Unions to die. Pick out your favorite and start your campaign to erase it…do it today. State by state…lawsuits against Unions to bury them. Push back. Then ban govt. Unions. Bury them in lawsuits. Union organizers are especially target rich perps. Nothing more than terrorists. Push back.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

As I commented after my next post, a union could be a rational and voluntary association for employees. Most unions today are so heavily infected with the socialist viewpoint that they are unable to fulfill such a role well.