The chair of the National Labor Relations Board called for greater legal protection for workers who want to form unions at an appearance in Minneapolis Thursday.
NLRB chair Wilma Liebman said labor's legal rights have steadily eroded in recent decades. But she said it's worth preserving existing federal labor law and trying to improve the law when the political, legal and economic climates are more favorable.
"Labor law still matters very much in this country," Liebman said. "Some may call this law a relic of the New Deal, but I think it still matters. The rights contained in this statute are enduring values. This law is probably in decline. But like dinosaur DNA, it's probably worth preserving."
Liebman said the union election process is too long and favors management. She said too many workers, including contract workers, are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act.
And she lamented the NLRB can't do much to punish employers who violate workers' rights. Only about 7 percent of private sector U.S. employees are now in unions.