Court ruling on labor board harms workers
San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28/13
By RoseAnn DeMoro
NNU Executive Director
Published 4:32 pm, Sunday, January 27, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
When the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Friday to overturn President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, it handed a huge gift to Wall Street, big corporations and the politicians they control.
In health care, the implications are especially insidious. It is a clear assault on the ability of nurses to act collectively to improve safety standards and public protections for patients.
When the labor board is not dominated by corporate-oriented appointees, as it has been most of the past four decades, the game plan of the antiunion crowd is to bar the board from operating, either by refusing to confirm appointees, de-funding it or destabilizing it. That was what prompted these recess appointments, made by President Obama only after the Senate minority blocked confirmation of his nominees needed to restore a quorum on the board to enable it to function.
Without a quorum, which will now be the case again, workers experience delays if they object to unfair discipline, intimidation or harassment by employers, or attempt to form a union to represent them. Only after the recess appointments were made was the board able to enforce a remedy on 2007 charges filed by the California Nurses Association, along with a tall stack of other delayed decisions. A final decision was issued just days ago affirming the 2009 ruling that a rural Northern California hospital had retaliated against nurses for legally protected union activity. Now that decision, too, is in jeopardy.
That, of course, is the real intent of this court challenge, the obstruction of the Senate in confirming presidential appointees, and blatant attempts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the politicians they heavily influence, to gut any semblance of federal protection for workers.
Labor law enacted in the 1930s helped sustain the growth of unions that led to dramatic improvements in living standards for all Americans in the 1950s and 1960s.
This court's decision is a further reminder that the labor movement and all those who believe in workplace and democratic rights need to step up our efforts to challenge Wall Street, the chamber and the politicians it controls. We need to get back in the streets, forcefully challenge those who would deny our rights, and unite a broad movement to press for participatory democracy and social change.
RoseAnn DeMoro is executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association.Back to News »