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Regulatory step too far forces litigious response

Small business owners aren’t usually the litigious type. In fact, the word “lawsuit” usually raises the hair on an entrepreneur’s neck, as one frivolous suit can threaten the very existence of their business and, therefore, destroy their livelihood. However, every person and every group has its limits. And when the government goes a step too far, small business owners will wield their right to sue.

The government has gone one step too far quite a bit lately. The latest offense was a punishing new rule from the National Labor Relations Board demanding that private-sector employers with no history of labor-law violations publicly display an 11-by-17 inch notice highlighting employees’ right to organize labor unions. Any business failing to do so by

Nov. 14 could face charges of unfair labor practices, be pounced on by federal investigators and ultimately taken to court.

During the public comment period on this rule, the National Federation of Independent Business pointedly noted the absence of a union election petition or the finding of an unfair labor practice should be sufficient evidence the posting was overkill, especially a notice that offered far more detail than necessary. But this type of common sense fell on deaf ears at the NLRB. The rule went forward and now carries the force of law.

Unless stopped in its tracks, the new NLRB poster rule will be costly and time-consuming for some 6 million small employers. It could also hinder any job creation they might have been working toward.

The rule is, ultimately, a gross overreach of the National Labor Relations Act the NLRB operates under. That’s why the NFIB, on behalf of its hundreds of thousands of small business members, has filed a lawsuit against the NLRB.

The NFIB lawsuit to protect the rights of small employers asks the court to set the rule aside and declare the NLRB’s poster trap a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. (Congress, anticipating such future abuses, specifically denied the agency the power to require such inflammatory postings.)

Sadly, the NLRB poster rule is indicative of Washington’s anti-business attitude — an attitude that is increasingly forcing the private sector to take drastic actions to get the federal government’s attention. Instead of meeting on Main Street and creating jobs, small business owners and the federal government are meeting in court.

Oddly enough, the president says — on an almost daily basis — his administration is doing all it can to create jobs and resurrect the economy. Then why do his policies direct the government to do just the opposite?

It’s a sad day when it takes such drastic action as filing a lawsuit to unshackle the thousands of American men and women who want nothing more than to own and operate their own small businesses, create jobs and pass their little firms on to future generations who hope to do the same. The small business community dislikes lawsuits. But if they’re pushed too far, it’s what they have to do.


Dan Danner is president and chief executive officer of the National Federation of Independent Business. Reach Danner through the Web site at www.NFIB.com.
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