Poster child

A federal judge ruled Friday that the National Labor Relations Board cannot require millions of private employers to put up posters informing workers of their right to form a union. A federal appeals court on Tuesday then blocked the rule from going into effect at the end of the month.


While a federal judge in Washington, D.C., previously held that the posters were a reasonable means to make workers aware of collective bargaining rights, a federal judge in South Carolina ruled last week that the labor board exceeded its authority last year when it approved the poster requirement.

U.S. District Judge David Norton also found it significant that the board went 75 years without requiring such a notice "but it has now decided to flex its newly discovered rule-making muscles."

The temporary injunction subsequently issued by an appeals court this week ensures that the rule won't go into effect as scheduled April 30 until the legal questions are resolved.

The NLRB rule requires nearly every private business to post an 11-by-17-inch notice in a prominent location explaining the right to bargain collectively, distribute union literature and engage in other union activities without reprisal from employers.

The NLRB, now dominated by Democratic appointees who in some cases are former union bosses, has been taking a number of aggressive steps designed to help union membership, which has been on the decline for decades. In the most obvious case, the federal agency sought to prevent Boeing from opening an aircraft factory in South Carolina -- creating thousands of jobs -- because of suspicions this was being done to punish the firm's unionized West Coast work force for previous strikes.

The problem here is not that Americans don't have a right to join unions -- of course they do -- or even whether they should be told about it. The question is to what extent government can reach into a private workplace and dictate what kind of communications must be posted there.

Make no mistake, the poster requirement is merely another step toward a goal long advanced by union activists, which is to receive the government's blessing to ignore private property rights, setting up recruitment tables inside the hallways and cafeterias of every targeted workplace in America.