Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

NY Times Editors’ Impossible Demands: A More Pro-Union Obama

Yesterday, we found that even a clearly pro-union acting secretary at the Department of Labor (DOL) wasn’t enough to make some members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) happy. Today, in the alternate universe where the New York Times editors reside, President Obama, too, has not been pro-union enough. The editors write:

What has been missing for years is a forceful labor agenda — one that calls for more jobs, but also has as its goal rising wages coupled with robust hiring.

Mr. Obama can take an important step in that direction by placing his next labor secretary at the center of his economic team. The first-term labor secretary, Hilda Solis, was largely sidelined, a reflection of the administration’s focus on the recovery of Wall Street, not Main Street. Some of the names that have been floated for the job — including Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan — show that Mr. Obama is seeking someone of high stature, but any secretary’s ability to be a transformative force will depend on the president’s support.

What else would the editors need to see to prove that Obama has a “forceful labor agenda?”  It’s true, as the editors later say, that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) failed miserably in Obama’s first term. But their chief complaint is that Obama wasn’t loud enough about it, with only “scant use of the bully pulpit” in promoting the decimation of employee rights. But the Times board forgets that even when Obama employed it in Michigan, it still didn’t rescue Big Labor from the labor reform movement.

And Solis was no slouch, either. She called herself the “loyal servant” to unions. She changed the rules to favor labor by reducing their reporting requirements and expanding the disclosures for businesses—so much so that proposed regulations will require attorneys to break confidentiality rules.

Obama’s unconstitutional “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cannot be overstated as a key element to his union agenda. The President was willing to put his executive power on the line just to give organized labor a leg-up at the NLRB, even if that meant choosing a member who has been accused of covering up embezzlement.

Just like the New York City bus drivers union, which is making demands that cannot legally be met, the New York Times editors are asking for the impossible. 

Categories: Center for Union FactsDOLEnding Secret BallotsLegalNLRB