Contentious labor issues emerging from N.L.R.B.
July 5, 2011
In recent years, the Employee Free Choice Act (card check) served as a powerful target for the baking industry and others in the business community concerned about the proposed elimination of the secret ballot as a prerequisite for union organizing.
Ultimately, enough members of Congress were convinced the idea was ill advised that it failed, even when Democrats led both houses of Congress. Still, the fact that such a major objective of the labor community failed to take hold should not mean there are not important labor relations issues worthy of careful industry attention.
In recent days, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged its members to react to proposed changes to National Labor Relations Board rules that would, among other things, shorten election time for union organizing. Without delving into the specifics of the proposal, it is clear that the current political environment, on the eve of the 2012 presidential campaign, is ripe for actions meant to satisfy key constituent groups. When legislative possibilities for such actions close, regulatory channels are often pursued and that appears to be the case with the Obama administration and organized labor.
Recently proposed changes to N.L.R.B. rules may not be quite as dramatic as the card check proposal but still could have a major impact. The failure of card check should not lead the baking industry to lessen its engagement in labor relations issues.