Would anyone be even the slightest bit surprised if the NLRB granted them their wish?
Having lost an election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, the United Auto Workers are charging unfair political interference and demanding another vote. Though the union’s case is dubious, the union-friendly referees at President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may grant a replay anyway as part of its larger campaign to muffle anti-union political speech.
The UAW has filed an election objection with the labor board alleging that Republican politicians conducted “a coordinated and widely-publicized coercive campaign” to deprive “workers of their federally-protected right” to “support and select the UAW as their exclusive representative.” The union says intimidation by third parties should void the results based on the constitutionally shaky doctrine known as “laboratory conditions.”
The NLRB invented this doctrine in the 1948 General Shoe case when it assumed responsibility to provide “a laboratory in which an experiment may be conducted, under conditions as nearly ideal as possible, to determine the uninhibited desires of the employees.” The board ruled that, “When, in the rare extreme case, the standards drop too low” then “the experiment must be conducted over again.”
Note the words “rare” and “extreme.” The NLRB has traditionally been reluctant to invoke that doctrine, even in cases of egregious misconduct. In 2010 the NLRB overruled Downtown Bid Services Corporation’s charge that pro-union workers had upset laboratory conditions by threatening employees with job losses. The board said the threats were mitigated by Downtown’s assurances that employees would not be fired regardless of the election’s outcome.