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Will Republican NLRB Member Resign To Shut Down Labor Agency?

Published Monday, November 21, 2011 11:00 am
by In These Times ( Editor’s Note: As of this morning (Monday, November 21st), word is quickly spreading across the Labor Movement in regards to Republican plans to shut down the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  According to information sent to Your Regional, On-Line Labor Newspaper, this proposed GOP bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has been described as both “anti-Democratic and grossly unfair.”  Labor Leaders say employers would be able to indefinitely delay a Union Election, which would provide them with more time to intimidate and harass Employees.  In addition, it would also encourage marathon pre-election hearings – again, further delaying Workers’ right to an election, and would rig Bargaining Units to favor employers, throwing out 75-years of case law and making it even more impossible to have a fair election.  As such, Union Members are being asked to participate in a National Congressional Call-In Week in order to oppose H.R. 3094, the so-called Workforce Democracy & Fairness Act.  Union Members are being urged to call their Federal Representatives toll free at 888-717-0911 and tell them to stand with Workers and oppose this “anti-Democratic and grossly unfair bill.”  If passed, Labor Leaders say it will further hurt the Middle Class.  Labor Leaders also want to remind our Federally-Elected Representatives that: The NLRB has existed for over 75 years to ensure Workers can safely seek representation without fear for their livelihoods and families.  H.R. 3094 is designed to tilt the already unbalanced playing field more firmly to the benefit of employers in Union Elections.  In American Democracy, a Worker’s right to seek a Union Voice deserves a balanced process.  Please oppose H.R. 3094 and protect Workers from anti-Union campaigns and oppressive employer practices. encourages our Viewers/Readers to take a few moments to call your Federally-Elected Representatives and tell them to oppose H.R. 3094.


(WASHINGTON) – On November 30th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is scheduled to vote on proposed rule changes that would speed up Union Elections by disallowing some appeals until after a workplace vote occurs.  Employers typically aim to delay an election so they can use the time to intimidate employees to voting against a Union.

But that vote may never take place, because some Conservative Members of Congress are pushing a plan that would force the NLRB, which is an independent Federal Agency tasked with enforcing Labor Law, to shut down.

There are currently three people serving on the NLRB. 

If that is reduced by one, the body will be unable to issue valid rulings.

In New Process Steel, L.P. vs National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the NLRB cannot decide cases with only two members of the NLRB. 

For 27 months, during the last year of President Bush’s term and the first 14 months of the Obama Administration, the NLRB had only two members (a Democrat and a Republican). 

The two members agreed to work together on common sense cases they could easily agree on a ruling. 

They passed judgment in nearly 600 cases.

But the Supreme Court invalidated all those rulings because they were made with only two members.  Therefore, some Conservative Politicians such as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and prominent Right Wing Blogs such as are pushing for Republican NLRB Board Member Brian Hayes to resign before the vote for the rules is issued on November 30th, which would effectively shut down the agency.

The rumors have gotten so strong of Conservative pressure on Hayes to resign that U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat-Iowa) wrote the following in an op-ed for The Hill: “Republican Elected Officials have gone after this small Federal Agency guns a-blazing - attacking its funding, refusing to confirm nominees, threatening the professional credentials and livelihoods of non-partisan career employees, and even taking the unprecedented step of calling on Republican Board Member Brian Hayes to abandon the duties he swore to uphold and resign in a blatant political move to incapacitate the agency altogether.”

As the NLRB moves to vote on the rule change, all eyes are on Hayes to see if he will effectively incapacitate the Federal Agency (A spokesperson for the NLRB said Hayes has not commented on the matter.).

But on December 31st, the NLRB could once again effectively become paralyzed in a different way.  NLRB Member Craig Becker’s recess appointment to the board expires when Congress adjourns at the end of 2011 (Republicans in Congress filibustered Becker's nomination, forcing President Obama to appoint Becker through a back door, so to speak.).

Now there’s talk that Republicans in Congress may keep a few members in session over the Christmas Holidays in order to prevent President Obama from making another recess appointment to the NLRB.  

This could potentially focus all eyes - at least those of people who care about the fate of the Labor Movement, which is very much connected to the NLRB - on President Obama as the election year kicks off.  

Organized Labor’s support may in part hinge on whether or not the president is willing to fight to make an appointment to the NLRB.

President Obama didn't exactly display a sense of urgency to ensure the NLRB can do its job by leaving the agency to languish with only two members for the first 14 months of his term, before being finally forced to issue a recess appointment.

And he may be averse to making a recess appointment - they are traditionally controversial - in an election year, particularly with the Boeing case being a hot-button issue among GOP presidential candidates.


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