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Outlawing Amicable Labor Relationships

In my recent op-ed, I discuss how the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 has distorted labor relationships in unionized industries by forcing employers and employees to deal with unions.

Over at Forbes.com, columnist George Leef recently highlighted some other issues with the NLRA, including its ban on so-called company unions. Leef writes:

[T]he National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), contains a provision, Section 8(a)(2), that was meant to prohibit “company unions.” … The leaders of the labor movement … preferred that workers have to choose only between their own brand of unionism or none at all. As a favor to them, the NLRA was written to prevent a company from acting to “dominate or interfere with the formation of any labor organization or to contribute financial or other support to it.”

Leef then provides a concrete illustration of how this law allows unions to insert themselves into amicable employer-employee relationships:

A small Indiana electrical parts company, Electromation, Inc. was struggling in 1988 so the president called his employees together to talk about how to improve operations. Several committees were formed and their recommendations were discussed. Any worker was free to participate in any committee. There was no “representation” and no bargaining – just talking and some suggestions.

Soon afterward, the Teamsters began an organizing drive at Electromation. The NLRB conducted an election to see if a majority of the workers wanted Teamster representation and the vote went against the union. The Teamsters then filed what are called “unfair labor practice” charges against the company, arguing that the election was unfair because management had violated 8(a)(2) by having its worker committees. Holding those meetings was said to be “aiding a labor organization.” … [W]hen the case was appealed to the full NLRB, it also sided with the Teamsters and ordered a new election, which was won by the union.

You can read Leef’s whole piece here.