Labour unions hate right-to-work laws, and are hoping that the NLRB will undermine them. They should be careful what they wish for. The NLRB’s line of reasoning would make it potentially illegal to build a new factory in a right-to-work state if you already operate one in a heavily unionised state””creating a powerful incentive never to do business in a heavily unionised state in the first place. It would be safer to make things only in places like South Carolina, or perhaps south China.
The NLRB is an autonomous body, but its board members are appointed by the president. Under a Democratic president, American businesses expect a more pro-union line, but the agency’s recent militancy is shocking, reminiscent of “loony-left” posturing in Britain in the 1970s. Not only does the agency in effect claim the power to tell firms where they may build factories. It is also suing two states (Arizona and South Dakota) where voters have decided that workers should be guaranteed a secret-ballot election before their workplace is unionised. Mr Obama has so far said nothing about any of these cases. The president claims he understands business. Condemning the NLRB would be a good way to prove it.