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NLRB fumble

Democratic appointees on the National Labor Relations Board have rammed through more than one controversial initiative during the Obama years.

In addition to threatening Boeing executives for having the gall to consider opening a plant in a right-to-work state, the board imposed new regulations forcing companies to display posters on-site informing workers of their right to organize.

Both those initiatives ended up in court; the former dispute was eventually settled, the latter is on hold pending further judicial review. And now another dubious NLRB measure has been hung up by a federal judge.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg tossed out new rules governing union elections that made it more difficult for management to counter organizing efforts.

Previously, union elections had to be held within 45 days after a formal request. The new regulations shrink that window to as little as 15 days, which business groups argue leaves companies vulnerable to “ambush” balloting.

But Judge Boasberg ruled that there was one minor problem with the board’s decision to impose the new edict: The panel never had a quorum.

The five-member NLRB had two vacancies at the time. Three members constitute a quorum. But the two Democratic appointees were so eager to grease the skids for organized labor that they forgot to notice the third member, Republican appointee Brian Hayes, never formally voted.

Instead, they went forward with the regulation under the theory that Mr. Hayes had previously expressed his opposition and therefore would have voted to oppose the change anyway. Not good enough, the judge said.

It’s a technical issue, to be sure. The board now has five members thanks to the president’s use of nonrecess recess appointments, which are being contested in court, and could simply hold a legitimate revote to revive the rules.

Nevertheless, the carelessness on display here highlights the desperation of Big Labor and its surrogates on the NLRB to resuscitate the moribund private-sector union movement in order to expand the pool of dues they can forcibly extract for progressive political activism.

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