Julius G. Getman: Proposed NLRB Rules are Sensible and Should Be Adopted

Roundup: Historians' Take

Julius G. Getman is a labor law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at Yale, the University of Chicago and Stanford. His latest book is "Restoring the Power of Unions: It Takes a Movement."

The embattled National Labor Relations Board has proposed rules to streamline union representation elections and give unions greater opportunity to contact workers. Employer representatives and conservative commentators have responded with vitriolic attacks. A Heritage Foundation analyst claims that "the NLRB's proposed snap elections [are] another case of the Obama administration putting unions ahead of workers."

These and similar comments reveal a basic hostility to the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act and a misconception, at best, of the NLRB's role in enforcing it. The board's proposed rules, which are the subject of a hearing in Washington this week, are sensible and should be adopted.

The National Labor Relations Act provides for elections, supervised by the NLRB, to determine if employees wish to unionize. In any unionization campaign, the employer, acting through lawyers and management officials, attempts to persuade employees to vote against unionization, while the union, acting through organizers and employee committees, seeks to persuade them of the benefits of union representation. The NLRB referees....

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