Unions have always had special privileges in America, but ever since 1973, when United States v. Enmons exempted them from compliance with the Hobbs Act, unions have received privileges that no one else could even dream of. U.S. v. Enmons held that violence for the cause of “legitimate” union objectives is not counted as extortion. That is an extraordinary privilege to say the least.
Now, the NLRB is handing out another special privilege that unions will abuse by ruling that employers who prohibit “[d]iscourteous or inappropriate attitude or behavior to passengers, other employees, or members of the public…” are violating Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Is this what organized labor has come to? Suing companies so that their members don’t have to be courteous? If that’s the case, we should all be very worried about increased union privileges.
At face value, it seems completely ridiculous that requiring employees to be courteous is unlawful, but let’s be fair and look at the NLRB’s reasoning:
The NLRB says that the requirement “is unlawfully overbroad. This bullet point is similar to a rule prohibiting the ‘inability or unwillingness to work harmoniously with other employees’ struck down by the Board in 2 Sisters Food Group, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 168 (2011).”
Call me crazy, but there seems to be a big difference between the inability or unwillingness to work harmoniously with other employees and the inappropriate and discourteous treatment of members of the public.
Yet the NLRB says the 2 Sisters ruling applies to the requirement that members of the public be treated courteously by employees. The NLRB is already comparing apples and oranges, but they go even further by wrestling the courtesy requirement into the jurisdiction of their 2 Sisters ruling. In that decision, the Board said that prohibiting the inability or unwillingness to work harmoniously with other employees was, “sufficiently imprecise that it could encompass any disagreement or conflict among employees, including those related to discussions and interactions protected by Section 7.”
How, in any imaginable way, does this apply to the courtesy requirement? By requiring employees to be courteous to each other and to members of the public, does an employer restrict lawfully protected rights to have unavoidable disagreement and/or conflict with other employees? In order to ascertain whether or not a courtesy requirement would interfere with employee discussions and interactions protected by Section 7, let’s take a look at Section 7 of the NLRA:
Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].
Wait a second, where does it mention inappropriate or discourteous behavior? That’s right, sports fans, the NLRB just made a decision based on a rule that doesn’t even exist. In fact, a prohibition against the “inability or unwillingness to work harmoniously with other employees,” is not even remotely addressed in Section 7, and that was the prohibition that the NLRB claimed the courtesy requirement was similar to, thus justifying its blockage.
The reasoning behind the NLRB’s ruling to exempt union workers from treating members of the public and fellow employees courteously is terrible. They use precedent set by a court case in which the prohibition in question had little, if any, similarity to a courtesy requirement. Even worse, the court precedent was based off of a nonexistent rule in Section 7 of the NLRA. Basically, the whole foundation for the NLRB’s bizarre ruling is nonexistent. If that doesn’t shake your faith in the idea of disinterested, neutral bureaucracy, I’m not sure what will.
American unions have privileges that no one else does, including an exemption from the Hobbs Act that keeps union violence from being charged as extortion, provided that said violence is for “legitimate” union objectives. In order to create a safer workplace and a more fair bargaining process, union power must be checked. If anything, they need to have their privileges scaled back, not increased by the NLRB, which displays such blatant favoritism.