The new administration is moving swiftly to change the playing field between labor and management. 

Today the President signed three executive orders. The important one provides government contractors cannot use federal funds to "support or deter their employees' exercise of the right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining." In June 2008 the Supreme Court held  that  an almost identically phrased California law was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. The Court expressly noted the law clearly was designed to facilitate union organizing and would virtually  prevent  government contractors from opposing union organizing efforts. Thus, the Executive Order clearly is contrary to the Supreme Court's interpretation of employer's free speech rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The Executive Order, if it says what the media reports, clearly provides  that  an employer who receives federal funds pursuant to a federal contract doesn't have First Amendment free speech rights to talk with employees about unions.

Here is the kicker--the First Amendment says "Congress shall pass no law . . . abridging freedom of speech." It doesn't say the President can't issue Executive Orders to accomplish the same thing.

If you are a government contractor, this is potentially a really big deal. We don't know the scope of the order because we don't have copies yet, but it could be as broad as Executive Order 11246 mandating affirmative action, and that is very broad indeed.

We are trying to obtain copies of the orders signed today to see if they say what the Wall Street Journal on line edition says they say.  

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