Abolish the NLRB (and the NLRA)

The National Labor Relations Board is in the news for meddling in Boeing’s decision to build some aircraft in South Carolina rather than in Washington state. To most economists, the idea that a small regulatory board in D.C. should try to centrally plan $1 billion of private business investment is crackers.

However, the vast bureaucratic state in D.C. was built by overactive left-wing lawyers, not free-market economists. Consider that the federal government apparently has complex legal rules to determine when U.S. businesses are allowed to move investment and jobs from one state to another. The NLRB’s General Counsel Lafe Solomon said that in deciding whether it allows businesses like Boeing to adjust their production: “For us, it’s a motive analysis.”

“Motive analysis?” We’ve got obscure labor lawyers in the federal bureaucracy trying to mind-read the nation’s business executives on their huge capital investment decisions? That doesn’t sound like a very good prescription for U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

This NLRB case highlights just one anti-growth and anti-freedom aspect of New Deal-era labor union laws. These laws–particularly collective bargaining–have no place in the modern economy. The NLRB should be abolished. Indeed, the entire National Labor Relations Act of 1935 ought to be repealed, according to Professor Charles Baird in his essay at DownsizingGovernment.org.

Economist Ludwig von Mises noted that “collective bargaining” is a euphemism for “bargaining at the point of a gun.” The system is not based on voluntarism and freedom of association. Voluntary unions would be fine, but current labor laws allow the creation of monopoly unions, which are inconsistent with a free economy and a free society.

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