When thinking about the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, most observers recall the 2014 decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Obama’s kangaroo-court “recess appointments”—made when the Senate was not actually in recess—were invalid.
Noel Canning was a huge setback for the administration, requiring the NLRB to reconsider 700 decisions rendered during the period in which it lacked a legitimate quorum.
Few have noticed, however, that the Board has not altered its course since that defeat.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) handed down a decision in December 2014 that has great import for the relationship of church and state as that relationship plays out through institutions of higher learning.
The decision dealt with the Service Employees International Union’s attempt to organize contingent (part-time and non-tenure track) faculty at Pacific Lutheran University, a religiously affiliated institution. The NLRB, by a vote of 3 to 2, articulated with this decision two new principles: first, regarding labor regulation of religiously affiliated colleges and universities, and second, deciding whether and to what extent faculty are to be considered “management” and hence exempt from the Board’s jurisdiction.
How would you like to live in a world where the federal government had to pay you every time it required you to do something? Would you rather watch football than do your taxes? Send a bill to Washington. Hate filling out that pesky form from the Census Bureau? Demand that the government pay you for your time. Ditto every other federal law or regulation that forces you or your company to do anything. Although this libertarian fantasy world is unlikely to materialize anytime soon, a recent pro-union decision may open the door to state constitutional challenges to federal regulations – or, at the very least, highlight the dangers inherent in results-oriented jurisprudence.
Amidst a series of setbacks at both the ballot box and the court house, the fate of the compulsory union movement may depend in large measure on the outcome of two lawsuits currently pending in Indiana. In early 2012, Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill that made Indiana the nation’s twenty-third right-to-work state. Unions have filed two challenges to that law, one each in state and federal court. The outcome of those lawsuits will help to determine whether Indiana remains a right-to-work state and whether other states follow Indiana’s lead.