Has The National Labor Relations Board Lost Its Way?
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner was matter-of-fact in his call for Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935: The New Deal's Labor Board was failing American Workers. "The oversight agency had become a ‘maze of confusion and contradictions, a sham and a delusion,’" Wagner said.
Workers were struggling to survive while business and industry reaped the rewards of the Nation's recovery from the Great Depression.
So, with the stroke of Franklin D. Roosevelt's pen that July, the NLRA became law, laying the foundation for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the power to enforce the right of Workers to organize, bargain contracts and lawfully Strike when management refused to play by the rules.
The Act wasn't perfect.
It excluded many Workers and its remedies were weak, but it was a huge step forward.
As Union Membership grew over the next 40 years, so did the economy.
Working Families prospered, were able to buy homes, send their children to college, take vacations and look forward to a secure retirement.
If Unions were the nails in building America's Middle Class, the NLRB was the hammer.
Wagner, who authored the Social Security Act that same year, understood that.
But what would he think now?
Today's NLRB is knocking down Workers' Rights and affirming management abuses at a breathtaking pace.
Recent rulings give employers a green light to eject Union Organizers from public spaces, to more easily withdraw Union Recognition, to discriminate against Union Members in the workplace, to thwart protests and to run roughshod over the rights of people working for subcontractors and franchises.
The list goes on.
"You have a Board under this administration that is ‘rolling back’ policies of an Act that was ‘limited from the outset, interpreting it in a way that continues to diminish the rights and protections of’ Employees," former NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, a former Labor Attorney in Buffalo, New York, told The Electrical Worker.
NLRB members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for staggered five-year terms.
By tradition, but not spelled out in the law itself, the party in the White House controls three of the board's five seats and nominates two members from the minority party.
The current board is split 3-to-1, with a lone Pro-Worker voice drowned out by three GOP appointees, two of them from "Union-Avoidance" Law Firms that help management skirt Labor Law and crush Organizing Drives.
The fifth seat is vacant.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Pearce from being reconfirmed when his term expired in 2018 and has indicated he will do the same with any future Democratic nominee.
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