Nov 23, 2011 3:02 PM GMT
Leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) last week officially endorsed President Obama for re-election in 2012. Endorsing a presidential candidate 11 months before the general election may seem a bit premature, but it's not even the record for the earliest endorsements so far in this cycle. The National Education Association (NEA) endorsed Obama in July, 14 months before the voting. While these early endorsements highlight the fact that Big Labor's leaders are little more than cheerleaders (and paymasters) for the Democratic Party, at least voters will have plenty of time between now and next November to weigh all the facts, policy positions and records of the parties' two eventual nominees.
But what if they didn't? What if unions not only got to endorse candidates, but also schedule election day at a time of their choosing? What if they could also control what the opposing party could say during that election? Would that be fair? Well, it's obviously a moot point in elections for public office, but President Obama thinks it would be just dandy in union votes. His appointees on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) promise to make a final decision November 30th on their proposed new regulations that would allow unions to force organizing elections in non-union workplaces in as little as 10 days.
Currently, there is about a five-week window between when union organizers petition the NLRB to conduct a secret-ballot election, and when the vote actually happens. That time between announcement and vote allows both sides abundant opportunities to make their case, so workers can cast informed ballots on whether to form a union. But the problem for Big Labor is that informed workers are increasingly choosing to keep their freedom to work without paying union dues. Union membership peaked at 26 percent of the work force in 1953. Today, only 9.6 percent of workers are union members. In the private sector, less than 7 percent of workers are unionized.
The NLRB regulation to be adopted next Wednesday is designed to reverse that trend. Union organizers would be empowered to force hurry-up, or "ambush," elections in less than two weeks. At best, this compressed schedule would significantly reduce the time business owners and managers have to make their case against unionization.