Trump solidifies anti-labor rules that will continue post-inauguration
In this Feb. 28, 2015 file photo, protesters march around the Wisconsin capitol after participating in a rally against a "right-to-work" proposal, in Madison, Wis. The anti-worker 'National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund' is now pushing the NLRB to ban employer neutrality during union drives. Essentially, they want to force employers to be actively anti-union. | Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal via AP

WASHINGTON—The anti-worker so-called National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund—the lawsuit arm of the vicious and venal “right to work” crowd—has seized upon a Unite Here organizing drive at a Boston hotel to try to outlaw company neutrality during any union campaign.

In two cases filed on Dec. 6, the defense fund asked the board, which now has just three members, all right-wing GOP white men, to ban the Yotel Boston Hotel—and any other employer–from being neutral during organizing drives.

Neutrality, the RTW worker and union-haters argue, is illegal corporate aid to unions and organizing, and leads to illegal recognition of the union.

If the RTW crowd wins, after a hearing expected in March, or after a February hearing involving Unite Here and an Embassy Suites hotel in Seattle, organizing drives nationwide would be severely hampered.

Workers and unions already face uphill battles, due to past NLRB and business legal roadblocks. Neutrality removes many of them.

The RTW crowd went to the NLRB, “on behalf of,” it said, four dissident workers at Yotel. Before that, Unite Here Local 26, which had won neutrality and card-check recognition from Yotel, was bargaining for a first contract, but the coronavirus pandemic halted the talks.

“This is another last-gasp Trump administration move, similar to ending protections for birds, drilling in Alaska, and gutting the civil service,” Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo told the ucomm labor blog. “As he’s walking out the door there’s these attempts to throw as many bombs as he possibly can.”

But it may be a lot more than that, according to a blog from a management-side labor law firm, commenting on the Seattle case, involving a hotel on historic Pioneer Square. And the union-haters at the radical right RTW outfit may stand a good chance of victory, it notes.

That’s because the terms of Trump’s three NLRB board members will extend beyond pro-worker Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 21 inauguration, as will that of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, its chief enforcement officer. His term runs through next November. The other two NLRB seats, reserved for people not from the president’s party, are vacant.

And Robb, who first earned his anti-worker chops as the young Justice Department drafter of the legal memo allowing GOP President Ronald Reagan to fire all unionized air traffic controllers in 1981, signaled a year ago that he hates company neutrality in organizing drives.

Robb “opined that in his view the employer appeared to have violated” labor law “by entering into and maintaining a neutrality agreement with the union,” a management-side law firm reported in its blog.

It said Robb argues “the neutrality agreement provided the union with far more than ‘ministerial aid’ during the organizing campaign. For the same reasons, the General Counsel opined the union” broke labor law “by accepting such aid,” neutrality, “from the employer.”

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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