Sentinel columnist falsely claimed National Labor Relations Act would give state workers right to picket

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In a November 29 Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction column criticizing Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter's executive order authorizing state employee partnerships, Rick Wagner falsely asserted that "the National Labor Relations Act of 1992 would allow [state employees] to set up picket lines." But as the National Labor Relations Board website makes clear and the Act's language specifies, the 1935 legislation does not cover "individuals who are ... employed by Federal, state, or local government."

In his inaugural November 29 column for The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, Rick Wagner falsely declared that "a really scary part" about Gov. Bill Ritter's (D) November 2 executive order, "Authorizing Partnership Agreements with State Employees," is that "the National Labor Relations Act of 1992 would allow them [Colorado state employees] to set up picket lines." In fact, as the website of the federal government's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) notes -- and as the law itself details -- the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), originally enacted in 1935, "specifically excludes from its coverage individuals who are ... employed by Federal, state, or local government."

In an editorial message introducing Wagner's column, the Daily Sentinel stated that "Wagner is a local attorney with deep roots in this community" and that he "has also been actively involved in the Republican Party and a variety of civic initiatives for many years." The Daily Sentinel website also provides a link to Wagner's blog, War on Wrong.

From Rick Wagner's column, "Gov. Ritter's order on collective bargaining will be a boon to union coffers," published November 29 in The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction:

The Arabs have a saying that if you allow the camel to stick its nose in the tent, the rest of the camel will surely follow. So I thought I would take a minute and look at Gov. Bill Ritter's most recent blanket party thrown for the taxpayers and see what his executive order allowing collective bargaining for state employees is likely to produce. When this is done, one discovers that the union camel isn't just in the tent, it's all the way in the back enjoying some Cheetos.

[...]

Now, the governor's supporters may want to spin this as not a big deal for unions. However, union organizers at the state Capitol apparently felt differently. On the Friday afternoon this particular order was signed, they were reportedly handing out flyers saying, "We did it," and "We are on our way."

One can see why they celebrated, since with this little union backscratch Colorado state employees who join unions can now have them serve as their exclusive negotiating representative.

Here's a really scary part: While they may not be allowed to strike, the National Labor Relations Act of 1992 would allow them to set up picket lines. And if you set up picket lines, what happens next? Ah, that's right. Other unions -- such as electricians, plumbers and the Teamsters -- won't cross them. So setting up picket lines outside of state buildings prevents unionized trades from performing their functions at those buildings.

The NLRA specifies which employees and employers it does and does not cover. Contrary to Wagner's assertion, the law does not apply to state employees:

DEFINITIONS
Sec. 2. [§152.] When used in this Act [subchapter]--

(1) The term "person" includes one or more individuals, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in cases under title 11 of the United States Code [under title 11], or receivers.

(2) The term "employer" includes any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, but shall not include the United States or any wholly owned Government corporation, or any Federal Reserve Bank, or any State or political subdivision thereof, or any person subject to the Railway Labor Act [45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.], as amended from time to time, or any labor organization (other than when acting as an employer), or anyone acting in the capacity of officer or agent of such labor organization.

[Pub. L. 93-360, § 1(a), July 26, 1974, 88 Stat. 395, deleted the phrase "or any corporation or association operating a hospital, if no part of the net earnings inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual" from the definition of "employer."]

(3) The term "employee" shall include any employee, and shall not be limited to the employees of a particular employer, unless the Act [this subchapter] explicitly states otherwise, and shall include any individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice, and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment, but shall not include any individual employed as an agricultural laborer, or in the domestic service of any family or person at his home, or any individual employed by his parent or spouse, or any individual having the status of an independent contractor, or any individual employed as a supervisor, or any individual employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act [45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.], as amended from time to time, or by any other person who is not an employer as herein defined.

Further contradicting Wagner, the NLRB website explains that the measure does not apply to workers employed by any state:

Workers Excluded from NLRB Coverage

The NLRA does not include coverage for all workers. The Act specifically excludes from its coverage individuals who are:

  • employed as agricultural laborers
  • employed in the domestic service of any person or family in a home
  • employed by a parent or spouse
  • employed as an independent contractor
  • employed as a supervisor (supervisors who have been discriminated against for refusing to violate the NLRA may be covered)
  • employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act, such as railroads and airlines
  • employed by Federal, state, or local government
  • employed by any other person who is not an employer as defined in the NLRA

[emphases added]

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