Department of Labor ends outrageous rule permitting union trespassing at non-union job sites

Elections have consequences, as President Obama used to enjoy saying.  Under President Obama, the Department of Labor in 2013 allowed a serious abuse of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) workplace inspections, turning them into legally sanctioned recruiting and intelligence-gathering (not to mention trespassing) missions for labor unions – even in non-union workplaces.  This change in rules that have the force of law was accomplished by issuing a memo from one bureaucrat, not through any formal rule-making process with checks and balances, much less legislation.

For this reason, it was challenged in court by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), representing the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).  The PLF explains:

The union walk-around rule allowed union officials to participate in OSHA workplace inspections – even for businesses that are not unionized and regardless of any technical or other relevant expertise the representative may (or may not) have had.  As the PLF/NFIB lawsuit drove home, this revolutionary distortion of the inspection process was illegal because it was imposed by one OSHA official's edict – through a letter called the "Fairfax Memo" – rather than through the extended notice and comment process that federal law requires for new regulations.  Moreover, the rule violated OSHA's existing regulations, by introducing union officials into inspection teams, whether or not they had the required health and safety expertise.

When a federal judge in December refused a motion to dismiss the case, NFIB v. OSHA, brought against the rule, the way was open for the Trump administration to withdraw the Fairfax Memo and end the abuse.  That has just happened, within the first hundred days of the Trump presidency.

"The withdrawal of the walk-around rule is a victory for the integrity of the OSHA inspection process," said PLF Senior Attorney Joshua Thompson.  "The rule perverted and hijacked health and safety reviews by allowing them to become a vehicle for proselytizing and recruitment by organized labor.  PLF was proud to join with NFIB to challenge – and help end – this illegal attack on the rights of non-union businesses and their employees."

"With the withdrawal of the walk-around rule, the rule of law has been affirmed," said PLF Senior Attorney Damien Schiff.  "This agenda-driven, union-promoting mandate was imposed not through an orderly process of broad-based deliberations and public input, but by one official's arbitrary fiat.  Freedom cannot survive if citizens are subject to raw bureaucratic power, with unelected administrators able to impose any edicts they like, unaccountable to anyone but themselves."

"The new Department of Labor memorandum is a clear win for small businesses," said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan.  "The 2013 memo gave unions a pathway to intimidate small business owners.  Congress never intended that OSHA should open the door to unionization efforts.  The Obama administration was on thin legal ground with their order, and we applaud the Trump administration for properly recognizing the rights of small business owners." ...

"The walk-around rule essentially provided cover for what amounted to trespassing by union officials," said Thompson.  "It gave union organizers the power to intrude on private workplaces and button-hole non-union employees, by deputizing these officials as government inspectors.  Our lawsuit highlighted this subversion of the process, and the court recognized the weight of our claims by rejecting the government's efforts to dismiss them."

The private-sector unions that have been delighted with President Trump's buy American/hire American policies will just have to get along without this illegal boon granted them by an Obama administration abuse.