Micro-unions a problem for small businesses

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A recent article in your paper talked about the rules and regulations coming from Washington, D.C. and the chilling effect they could have on job creation. However, many readers were probably left wondering what a micro-union is.

In 2011, the National Labor Relations Board approved a rule that led to the formation of these micro-unions. The rule allows for as few as two or three employees to form a union. It also means that there could be multiple unions within one company.

Imagine a small-business owner who now has to bargain not with one union, but multiple unions. Instead of worrying about how to grow their business and create jobs, small business owners would now need to become experts in labor negotiations.

This isn't a theory; it's happening in New York right now. The women's shoes department at Neiman Marcus' Bergdorf Goodman store is trying to unionize. That may not seem unusual, except that the women's shoe department is trying to unionize on its own and not with the rest of the store's sales force.

These types of micro-unions won't stop in New York. Soon small businesses and factories across Missouri will confront this challenge. Your local grocer may have to deal with unions in produce and frozen foods. The local mom and pop dinner may have to deal with unions representing the cooks and the wait staff.

All of this does nothing to create jobs or even help workers. It tips the balance of power in the workplace toward big unions. Mostly, though, it means that small-business owners will have less time and money for their business. Every dollar spent on a labor lawyer is a dollar that's not spent on raises or hiring new workers.

This is an example of yet another silly and needless regulation from Washington. Here in Missouri we do not believe that government creates jobs. However, the government can set the table for economic growth with smart polices that keep government interference to a minimum.

There is legislation that would put an end to micro-unions. The House passed its own version of a bill to do just that with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's support. The Senate has not acted on similar legislation by Sen. Johnny Isakson. His bill, (S. 1843) would simply restore the previous rules that have governed the formation of unions for decades. Sen. Roy Blunt supports the bill. However, Sen. Claire McCaskill has yet to comment on whether she would support it.

If they want to get Missouri and America back to work, Congress can start by getting rid of onerous new regulations that do nothing to help create jobs.

Jason Klindt is the director of the Coalition to Protect Missouri Jobs, a nonpartisan group dedicated to educating voters on where federal candidates stand on workplace rules.

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