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Entries in Regulatory Actions (623)


WSJ: The Death Of Right To Work  

The Death Of Right To Work
After 17 Months And $2 Billion, The NLRB Sandbags Boeing
April 20, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
We knew that Big Labor had political pull at the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, but yesterday's complaint against Boeing is one for the (dark) ages. By challenging Boeing's right to build aircraft in South Carolina, labor's bureaucratic allies in Washington are threatening the ability of states to compete for new jobs and investment—and risking the economic recovery to boot.
In 2009 Boeing announced plans to build a new plant to meet demand for its new 787 Dreamliner. Though its union contract didn't require it, Boeing executives negotiated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to build the plane at its existing plant in Washington state. The talks broke down because the union wanted, among other things, a seat on Boeing's board and a promise that Boeing would build all future airplanes in Puget Sound.
So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn't have "strikes happening every three to four years." The union has shut down Boeing's commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.
This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing's plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.
The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing's South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of "anti-union animus," says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of "discouraging membership in a labor organization" and thus violates federal law.
It's hard to know which law he's referring to. There are plentiful legal precedents that give business the right to locate operations in right-to-work states. That right has created healthy competition among states and kept tens of millions of jobs in America rather than heading overseas.
Boeing has also expanded its operations in Puget Sound while building its South Carolina presence. Ultimately, the NLRB seems to be resting its complaint on the belief that Boeing spent nearly $2 billion out of spite, which sounds less like a matter of law than of campaign 2012 politics.
Boeing says it will challenge the complaint in an NLRB hearing in June, but Big Labor also has sway at the five-member board. Recall that President Obama gave a recess appointment last year to Craig Becker, a former lawyer for the Service Employees International Union who once wrote that the NLRB could impose "card check" rules for union organizing even without an act of Congress. Even a Democratic Senate refused to confirm him.
Beyond labor politics, the NLRB's ruling would set a terrible precedent for the flow of jobs and investment within the U.S. It would essentially give labor a veto over management decisions about where to build future plants. And it would undercut the right-to-work statutes in 22 American states—which is no doubt the main union goal here.
With a Republican House, Mr. Obama's union agenda is dead in Congress. But it looks like his appointees are determined to impose it by regulatory fiat—no matter the damage to investment and job creation.


Right To Work - Townhall: Sorry Mr. Trumka, They’re Just Not That Into You

Sorry Mr. Trumka, They’re Just Not That Into You
Katie Gage
April 20, 2011
It seems like every few days we see another example of workers giving unions the cold shoulder.
Over the last three decades, unionization in the private sector has plummeted from 35% to just under 7% today. This is the lowest rate in a century.
In fact, nine out of 10 Americans currently working in a non-union environment would say “no” to unionization, if given the choice.
But Big Labor bosses don’t seem to get the message. Instead, they work to force unionization on employees and employers at every turn. They’re like a bad first date who won’t take “no thank you” for an answer.
And in recent days they have grown increasingly desperate and turned to regulatory agencies to do their bidding. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is tasked with administering to disputes between unions and employers in the private sector. The agency is supposed to be “independent” and is funded with taxpayer dollars.
Under the Obama Administration, the NLRB has become hyper-partisan with board members like Craig Becker advocating for Big Labor’s agenda resulting in job-killing policies that hurt workers and negatively impact small businesses. Becker is a former lawyer for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and continues to serve as an advocate for labor bosses in spite of the fact that the American people pay his salary.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) was created in the 1930s to settle labor disputes in the airline and railroad industries and keep America moving. However, the agency has become yet another place where labor bosses are seeking favors and gifts due to the fact that workers in the railroad and airline industries have repeatedly rejected unionization.
Instead of standing by the decisions made by workers, the NMB issued a rule change upending nearly a century of precedent whereby a majority of employees were required to vote in favor of the union to form a collective bargaining unit. Two of three NMB members, also handpicked supporters of Big Labor decided that a majority of those voting was sufficient to create a collective bargaining unit even if it meant workers lost their voice and vote.
Even though it’s the workplace equivalent to being forced into a second date, Big Labor bosses cheered the change of a rule in place since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president.
The actions of the NMB were so egregious, that the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to undo them in its reauthorization legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
All of this comes on the heels of workers and small businesses thwarting efforts by union bosses to undo democratic staples like the secret ballot. In the last session of Congress, elected officials supported and financed by labor organizations introduced the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA).
The legislation would have effectively eliminated the secret ballot by instituting a card check process allowing organizers to coerce and intimidate workers forcing them to support unionization. And after the collective bargaining unit had been formed through fear and harassment, the bill required binding arbitration empowering the government to mandate contract terms on employees and employers alike without their consent.
The legislation was soundly rejected on Capitol Hill by elected representatives on behalf of their constituents sending a message to Big Labor that said, “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
So I have a message for Mr. Trumka and his Big Labor boss pals as they work to force workers into their ranks against their will: “Sorry guys, they’re just not that into you.”


The Hill: NLRB Skirts Formal Rulemaking Requirements

NLRB Skirts Formal Rulemaking Requirements
Peter C. Schaumber
April 18, 2011
The Hill
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may be on the brink of making a major change in national labor policy without resorting to the basic strictures of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which requires federal agencies to adhere to certain standards when issuing new regulations, including conducting cost benefit assessments and providing the public notice and a full and fair opportunity to comment.
Specifically, the Board has announced its intent to reconsider the standards that have governed for decades what constitutes an appropriate unit for purposes of union representation and collective bargaining. The Board, over a strident dissent by the lone Republican member, has done so in the context of adjudicating a single case, one in which no party requested such a sweeping review of existing law. The Board’s actions are questionable both as a matter of substantive policy and administrative procedure, and smack of an effort to achieve through agency fiat radical statutory changes Congress has declined to enact.
The case at issue, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, arises in the health care industry. That industry was singled out by Congress and the Board for specialized treatment due to the unique needs and considerations applicable to medical facilities. In particular, Congress directed the Board to give due consideration to preventing the proliferation of bargaining units within such facilities, and the Board itself recognized during its healthcare rulemaking proceedings in the late 1980s that “large-scale splintering of the [healthcare] work-force” was inconsistent with sound public policy. Though the Board’s healthcare rule did not in its final form extend to nursing homes and other non-acute care facilities, the Board has, for more than 20 years, applied a unit determination standard to nursing homes that considers a number of factors, including those deemed relevant in the acute care rulemaking.
Indeed, in formulating the standard applicable to nursing homes, the Board specifically noted its earlier findings during the rulemaking process concerning the greater functional integration within nursing homes, suggesting that smaller, fragmented units of employees would be less likely to be found appropriate in such facilities. For more than two decades, the Board has adhered to that measured approach, generally declining to splinter sub-groups of nonprofessional nursing home employees into separate sub-units.
Why is the determination of the appropriate unit significant? Generally, smaller units are favored by unions because they are easier and less expensive to organize; union agents can target small subsets of disgruntled employees within a broader workforce. Once a foothold is gained, union agents enjoy broader access rights and can seek to make incremental gains among other segments of employees, with the ultimate objective of securing representation of the entire facility, albeit in separate units. But a proliferation of small units fragments the workplace and has substantial negative consequences on the employer, the long-term interests of employees, and the collective bargaining process.
A proliferation of small units presents the specter of an unending series of union organizing campaigns, NLRB proceedings, and the attendant litigation costs and disruption to the employer’s operations. Moreover, fragmentation of the workforce does not enhance collective bargaining, it undermines it. As the Board has recognized, it can give rise to conflicts of interest and dissatisfaction among constituent groups, impose the time and expense of continuous and repetitious bargaining, and lead to wage whipsawing, more frequent strikes, work stoppages and jurisdictional disputes. Even if agreements can be reached, fragmented units can create lasting legal and administrative costs in applying different agreements and working conditions to a slew of small groups of employees scattered around the workplace. Unit fragmentation also undermines the perceived legitimacy and bargaining strength of unions by severely restricting the size of their constituency relative to the overall workforce. These deleterious affects obviously take on heightened significance in the context of medical facilities, where heightened costs of care and the disruption of operations pose serious risks to public health.
That is why the NLRB, since its inception, has sought to avoid the proliferation of bargaining units and it is why the National Labor Relations Act specifically states that the extent to which the union has succeeded in organizing employees shall not be controlling in determining the appropriate unit. However, the Board has now signaled a sharp change in direction, one which may impact unit determinations, not just in nursing homes and other non-acute care facilities, but in all industries. The Board in the Specialty Healthcare case recently invited briefs on whether it should abandon decades of precedent and adopt a new rule that would approve units of two or more employees doing the “same job” in the “same location,” without regard to whether those employees comprise a distinct and homogenous group with interests separate from other employees. Under such a new standard, a unit consisting solely of maintenance employees working on the second floor of a nursing home or nursing assistants but not other care givers presumably would be appropriate. As would a unit consisting solely of the trumpet players in an orchestra or wide receivers on a football team, regardless of the sentiments of the other workers with whom they share common interests. 
Apart from the sweeping nature of the change, the legal process the Board chose to try to implement it is reminiscent of a similar power play at the National Mediation Board (NMB), where the Democratic appointees jettisoned decades of precedent, without meaningful public comment and deliberation -- or even involvement of the lone Republican member -- to do away with the fundamental requirement that a majority of eligible voters in a unit cast ballots in favor of a union in order to be certified as the bargaining representative. In this case, rather than undertake the same open rulemaking process it followed when implementing new unit determination rules applicable to a single industry, the Board simply issued a short deadline for submitting briefs in the Specialty Healthcare case. Fortunately, that action did not go unnoticed, and triggered a four-page letter to the Board from Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Ranking Member Senator Michael Enzi and committee members Senators Orrin Hatch and Johnny Isakson, who criticized the proposal as inconsistent with the NLRA and threatened Congressional intervention if the Board rushed through such a fundamental change in American labor law outside the public rule-making process.
It remains to be seen whether the unelected Democratic appointees at the NLRB will, like their colleagues at the NMB, skirt the rulemaking process in order to undermine foundational principles of workplace democracy requiring majority support of a workforce in order to impose union representation.
Peter C. Schaumber is the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.


CEI Daily - Union Hypocrisy, Federal Spending, and Internet Poker


Union Hypocrisy


A union in Seattle is combating an altruistic offer by a private company because it would mean the loss of a union contract.


Research Associate Trey Kovacs explains.


"Cleanscapes, a private trash-collection company, offered its services free of charge to the city of Seattle to clean the Westlake Park. The altruistic offer was met with firm opposition by local union officials of state workers. This should seem out of character for unions, considering the recent publicizing of coalitions with Rainbow/PUSH and the Blue-Green Alliance. These coalitions are supposed to highlight how unions help build stronger and cleaner communities. Dmitri Iglitzin, attorney for Local 1239, Public Service and Industrial Employees union, said, 'This is an effort by a commercial company to move in on a potential city contract.'"




Federal Spending


Obama talks about lowering the federal debt; but he hasn't provided a clear plan for changing the culture of spending in Washington.


Vice President Iain Murray talks about what's next for the country if the government continues in its current direction.


"So the battle in Washington must continue, and be fought to a decisive end. We should be clear, however, where the president and the Democrats want to take us. They want to make the U.S. into just another European country, with high levels of publicly-provided social services maintained by excessive taxes on the wealth-producing class. Vast numbers would be dependent for their livelihood — either via welfare or employment — on a government that exists as a gigantic money-go-round."




Internet Poker


The largest internet poker websites were suspended last week.


Policy Analyst Brian McGraw responds to news of the sites' shutdown.


"It is a sad day for a free society. This might be the final straw for online poker. A bill to move forward with federal legalization and regulation failed in Congress last year, though may still succeed this year. Various state legislatures, including the District of Columbia, are moving forward with patchwork regulations. Unfortunately, the outlook is dim on the state level as many such programs will be run by government monopolies — supporting the paternalistic idea that we can only gamble under the watchful eye of government."


CEI - EPA Whistleblower Criticizes Global Warming Science and Policy in New Peer-Reviewed Study 


Runaway Deficit Surpassed By Runaway Regulation

Washington, D.C. April 18, 2011 - Federal regulations cost even more than the skyrocketing federal budget deficit, and help bring the federal government's share of the economy to over 35 percent, a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute reveals.
Regulations cost $1.75 trillion in compliance costs according to the Small Business Administration. That's greater than the record federal budget deficit---projected at $1.48 trillion for FY 2011---and greater even than all corporate pretax profits.  This is only one of many findings of the new edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, a survey of the cost and compliance burden imposed by federal regulations.
Trillion-dollar deficits and regulatory costs approaching $2 trillion annually are both unsettling new developments for America, said report author, Wayne Crews, CEI Vice President for Policy. Every year, the federal government blows past previous deficit, debt, and regulatory burdens with no end in sight. No wonder Americans are fed up with Washington.
The costs of federal regulations often exceed the benefits, yet receive little official scrutiny from Congress.  The report urges Congress to step up and take responsibility for the state of the nation by reviewing and rolling back economically-harmful regulations.
Among the report's findings:
  • The Federal Register stands at an all-time record-high 81,405 pages.
  • In 2010, federal agencies issued 3,573 final rules.
  • While agencies issued 3,573 final rules, Congress passed and the president signed into law a comparatively few 217 bills. Considerable lawmaking power is delegated to unelected bureaucrats at agencies, an abuse addressed recently in proposals such as the REINS Act.
  • Alarmingly, proposed rulesin the Federal Register have surged from 2,044 in 2009 to 2,439 in 2010, a jump of 19.3 percent.
  • Of the 4,225 rules now in the regulatory pipeline, 224 are economically significant meaning they wield at least $100 million in economic impact-this is an increase of 22 percent over 2009's 184 rules.
  • Given 2010's government spending (outlays) of $3.456 trillion, the regulatory hidden tax of $1.75 trillion stands at an unprecedented 50.7 percent of the level of federal spending itself.
  • Regulatory costs exceed all 2008 corporate pretax profits of $1.463 trillion.
  • Regulatory costs dwarf corporate income taxes of $157 billion.
  • Regulatory costs tower over the estimated 2010 individual income taxes of $936 billion by 87 percent-nearly double the level.
  • Regulatory costs of $1.75 trillion absorb 11.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $14.649 trillion in 2010.
  • Combining regulatory costs with federal FY 2010 outlays of $3.456 trillion reveals a federal government whose share of the entire economy now reaches 35.5 percent. 

The report urges reforms to make the regulatory costs more transparent and accountable to the people, including annual report cards on regulatory costs and benefits, and congressional votes on significant agency rules before they become binding.

Read the report: Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

See list of the nation's worst federal regulations (letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa).

View video: Wayne Crews on last year's report.