Follow Up Friday: Stimulus Funds will Blacklist Non-Union Workers

By now we’ve all heard about Obama’s Executive Ordersaimed at pacifying labor until EFCA rolls into town.  Now, any unfair labor practice charges leveled against a contractor – perhaps during a union organizing drive – could be used to bar the contractor from competing for taxpayer-funded federal work.  According to National Right to Work, “Now that union operatives at DOL have the power to blacklist a company from federal contracting simply by lodging a few spurious (even unadjudicated) charges, it’s pretty clear union bosses are in for a massive payday when the “stimulus” bill passes.”

For many years, I have seen first hand how union-filed prevailing wage complaints against non-union contractors cost them locally and state funded work, even if the charge doesn’t have merit or is settled for pennies on the dollar.  Unfortunately, the filling of such charges is a one-way street.  Non-union contractors, for some reason, don’t file charges against union contractors.  Assuming non-union contractors continue to not file charges – whether for prevailing wage violations or unfair labor practice charges for harassment on job sites – only non-union companies will be blacklisted from performing some of the $188 billion worth of federal work currently earmarked in the stimulus package.

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Obama’s Anti-Non-Union Federal Contractor Executive Orders

Earlier this week, I mentioned that Obama signed Executive Orders that were aimed at undoing some of President Bush’s Orders regarding the the federal contractor and construction industries.  Prior to signing the orders, Obama declared, “We cannot have a strong middle class without strong labor unions.  We need to level the playing field for workers an dunions that represent their interests.”  His signatures on the following Executive Orders are his initial steps at single handedly creating nationalized unionism throughout our country.

Bush’s Executive Order 13201 helped ensure that employees of federal contractors were informed of their right to resign or decertify a union under the U.S. Supreme Court case Communication Workers v. Beck holding that private sector employees may be compelled to pay certain union dues, but may not be compelled to pay any dues or fees earmarked for union politics, lobbying, an dother non-bargaining activities.  I warned of Obama’s repeal of Beck rights in December, and unfortunately, it came true. 

According to National Right to Work, “Obama included the revocation of Beck rights noticesin an executive order advertising, and essentially endorsing, the formation of unions under a theory (long discredited by academic research) that forcing employees into union collectives will somehow prevent ‘substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce.'”  NRTW continues: “The executive order also purports to give the Sectretary of Labor[pro-union Hilda Solis] the authority to detemrine what will be required by the notice, the authority to investigate violations, to hold hearings, and the power to punish violators of all federal labor laws mentioned in the notice.  In effect, the Secretary of Labor[who dodged answering questions about her stance on EFCA and other controversial issues when questioned by Congress] would become an additional judge, jury, and executioner of federal labor laws with respect to federal contractors.  Most importantly, the Secretary [who is not a done deal yet because of her radical positions] would determine whether a contractor would be fired by the federal government (apparently where the contractor has not even been found to have violated any laws by the law enforcement body of jurisdiction.)”  All of this would be a tremendous extension of the Secretary’s power, if not illegal, so it will be interesting to see what the final regulations look like.

Obama also requiresthat whenever federal agency changes contractors, the new contractor must offer jobs to the non-supervisory employees who workeed for the previous contract.  For example, rank-and-file workers could continue working on the same federal project even if the administrative contract expired.

Obama also had an Order denying federal contractors reimbursement for funds spent to “support or deter their employees’ exerciese of their right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining,” although it is unclear how much money contractors are now spending on anti-union measures or whether they are being reimbursed for it.

The last Executive Order Obama signed at the Middle Class Task Force launch party requires federal vendors with more than $100,000 in contracts to post workers’ rights under thr National Labor Relations Act.

Looking forward, seven Republican members of the Louisiana congressional delegation asked Obama to reconsider his campaign pledge to repeal President Bush’s executive order barring federal contractors from signing project labor agreements.  I image this request will fall on deaf ears, and I’ll let you know what happens about it in the future.

Overturning Beck Rights

In 2001 President Bush issued Executive Order 13201, requiring nonexempt federal contractors to post a notice informing employees of their Beck rights.  Beck rights state that:

 

·         Employees cannot be required to join a union or maintain membership in a union to keep their jobs;

·         Employees can be required under certain conditions to pay uniform periodic dues and initiation fees to unions as a result of union-employer security agreements;

·         Employees can object to use of their payments for certain purposes; and

·         Employees can only be required to pay the portion of dues and fees used to support collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment.

 

Beck rights are basically adopted/repealed depending on the sitting President.  In fact, the first President Bush initiated such rights, which were repealed by Clinton and then reinstated by the current President Bush.  Following logic, the Obama administration will certainly repeal Beck rights, but just how far it will be repealed – or even if the opposite of Beck rights are established – is yet to be determined.