Thursday, October 27, 2011

Small business owner to GOP: You don't know what I need

It's a good thing Congressional Republicans are so focused on dismantling the National Labor Relations Board. That's obviously the best possible way to create desperately needed jobs in this country.

Yes, we're being sarcastic. And a small business owner, Willie West, agrees with us. He posted an opinion piece in The Hill today that deserves reading:
West writes:
As a small business owner, I have an odd experience nearly every time I open a newspaper. Day after day, pundits and politicians — most of whom have no actual experience running a business — rattle off talking points on what I supposedly need. It’s strange. Even though I’ve never hired a K Street consultant, there’s an army of them ready to speak for me. The free public relations service would be nice, but unfortunately the Wall Street rhetoric doesn’t match Main Street’s reality.
Their latest claim is that small business owners such as myself vehemently oppose the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Since the 1930s, the NLRB has been charged with regulating union elections and protecting workers’ rights against violations by both employers and unions. Rep. John Kline of Minnesota is the latest in a string of lawmakers to introduce legislation that would limit, weaken, or dismantle the NLRB altogether. Earlier this month, lawyers and anti-union spokesmen railed against the NLRB in Congressional hearings, claiming this small agency is killing small businesses and, to use Rep. Kline’s phrase, “wreaking havoc” on the economy.
That simply isn’t true.
Reviewing the NLRB’s decisions this summer, I fail to see a single action that will negatively impact my business. I have strained to see how informing workers of their right to form a union or modernizing the outdated union election process will hurt my business. The connection simply isn’t there. These seemingly minor changes certainly do not create uncertainty for me and they will not affect my ability to create jobs. In fact, if the NLRB standardizes the election process, it seems to me that this will reduce uncertainty and turmoil in the workplace — especially for small businesses.
So here’s what a real small businessman says he needs to succeed: talented and committed workers with a voice on the job.
I run a sheet metal company in Sterling, Va., where we fabricate and install sheet metal duct work for ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems. My workers are an integral part of my business and an important asset to its success. They are my business partners, not a line item on my accounting forms.
My employees are members of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 100 and collective bargaining helps us work together. Despite what you’ve heard, I’m not experiencing any undue burdens because of my union workforce.
Quite the opposite—when I hire a union member, I know I’m getting a qualified, well-trained worker who has undergone rigorous and thorough skills training. Their union provides an educational infrastructure that frankly, as a small business owner, I could not offer on my own. Having these skilled workers means my workplace is safer, which lowers costs, makes my business more efficient, and helps raise profits.
According to groups like the U.S.Chamber of Commerce – who, by the way, have never done a thing to help my business grow – the only way I can succeed is to mimic overseas employers with bottom of the barrel labor practices. Only unskilled workers with no voice will allow my business to thrive, they say.
Read the whole thing here.