Last time we wrote about Wilma Liebman -- National Labor Relations Board Member and unabashed promoter of compulsory unionism -- she was trashing freedom of choice for employees during hearings before Congress.
This time the NLRB Member has taken her activism to a new forum to complain about what she considers an over emphasis on individual rights. In an article in the Journal of Labor and Society, Liebman concentrates her shrill rhetoric on what she sees, God forbid, as a shift in favor of an "individual rights regime."
The screed contains much whining about a series of NLRB decisions in which Liebman dissented from the majority, but ultimately only on the last page of her article are her true motivations clearly revealed:
[A]n exclusive orientation toward an individual-rights regime could have troubling political and social consequences.Workers may view the employment relationship in purely individual terms and may fail to grasp common economic interests and the potential of collective action at work, as well as in the public sphere. Collective action at work encourages engagement in the community and in politics. Without a functioning collective bargaining system, fundamental economic issues are placed off the table: distribution of wealth, control, and direction of economic enterprises. What institution will be as effective in efforts to minimize the randomness of fortune of democratic capitalism? And without a strong independent trade union movement, what institution will stand effectively as a counterweight in our democracy to the growing political influence of corporations? What institution will speak for working people—indeed for the middle class—as effectively?
So there you have it. Liebman's real motivation is politics pure and simple. Liebman, one of only two members currently on the five-member Board, wants to promote forced unionism over individual rights as a means to a political end (in her case that end would seem to be socialist economic policies).
She believes our nation's labor laws should be further contorted to promote what she claims are employees' "common economic interests." Nevermind that a group of workers for a single employer -- let alone the entire "middle class" -- will never all have the same interests or values, making it impossible for any institution to speak for them all.
All this raises a fundamental issue in that Foundation-won Supreme Court precedents have affirmed the free speech right of employees to refrain from union politics. If, as Liebman asserts, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) collective bargaining scheme is about promoting politics -- or as she calls it "collective action... in the public sphere" -- then the entire NLRA is not compatible with the Constitutional free speech and freedom of association rights of workers (which would certainly explain her disdain for any emphasis on individual rights).
Unfortunately for employees hoping to have their individual rights protected, Liebman will be on the Board at least until 2011.