Squashing Unions

SQUASHING UNIONS….In a move that surprised exactly no one, the NLRB voted along party lines yesterday to reclassify 8 million workers as “supervisors” who will no longer have any protection under U.S. labor laws. It no longer matters whether you hire, fire, or discipline. If you do so much as make out a shift schedule or monitor the quality of other employees’ work, bingo! You’re a supervisor!

Nathan Newman explains what this means on a practical basis:

The new expansive definition of “supervisor” means that more workers will be given nominal supervisory responsibilities to undermine their right to unionize ? and lock every union vote in endless delays as companies litigate who is and who is not a supervisor. Even if the workers “win”, the election will probably be delayed long enough to kill the union drive.

The Chamber of Commerce, of course, puts this semi-cheerful spin on it:

The decision will probably affect primarily work sites where union organizing is going on, said Stephen A. Bokat, general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Where there are established collective bargaining relationships,” he said, “these issues with regard to supervisors are very well established and I doubt most employers will totally upset their workplaces to meet that definition.”

Everyone who believes this, please raise your hand. I imagine it will take no more than a few hours for some enterprising CEO with an “established collective bargaining relationship” to realize what a great opportunity this is to send his company’s unions into turmoil. Others will follow almost immediately.

This is, by the way, the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say that Republicans have made it steadily harder over the years to organize unions. Most people will never hear about this ruling, just as most have never heard of the dozens of other under-the-radar rulings, laws, regulations, and court decisions that have slowly chipped away at the ability of unions to organize over the years. But believe me: business lobbies have. And since this ruling mostly affects service industries, they can’t pretend that globalization has forced their hand. They just want to eliminate any organized pressure to pay their workers more.

That got a lot easier on Tuesday.