National Consumers League

National Labor Relations Board held hostage


By Michell K McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft Once again, the strength and safety of the American workforce is at the mercy of politicians and bureaucrats determined to diminish worker’s rights.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a independent federal agency whose role is to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (a 76-year-old law that sets the rules for unionization efforts and collective bargaining in the private sector), and America’s workers are being held hostage by two forces: the minority in the Senate have vowed to block any and all nominations, and Brian E. Hayes, the NLRB’s sole Republican appointee. According to other NLRB board members, Hayes has threatened to resign from the NLRB, thus denying it the three-person quorum it needs to make decisions. Hayes has made his threat to expressly block the NLRB from adopting new rules to speed up unionization elections, which were scheduled to pass yesterday.  Yesterday, the NLRB board met in a tension filled session and voted to adopt the new union election rules 2-1, with Hayes in the minority.   Hayes did not resign however everyone’s holding their breath to see what happens next. Even without Hayes’ threat of resignation, the NLRB will no longer have a quorum in 2012, due to board member Craig Becker’s recess appointment expiring.  Senate Republicans have vowed to block any and all replacement nominees. , With only two out of the five board members the Board is meant to have, the NLRB will not be able to issue any decisions or rulings.  This watchdog of Americans’ rights in the workplace will be rendered unable to function, , making it easier for unscrupulous businesses to mistreat their workers and more difficult for workers to hold union elections and bargain collectively. It’s time to stop using brass knuckle politics to hold American workers and the NLRB hostage.  The NLRB has a very noble purpose – to promote collective bargaining between workers and employers and oversee the process to make sure both sides are playing fair. For the sake of America’s workers and the middle class, we need true bipartisan cooperation to ensure that this vital independent federal board is kept operational and can continue to protect our workers.