The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Chairman and General Counsel will both be called before the Senate to answer questions about recent decisions that clearly favor Big Labor. Michael J. Lotito has the story in Workplace Policy Update.
During a May 14 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to discuss the National Labor Relations Board’s FY 2016 budget, NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce and General Counsel (GC) Richard Griffin indicated the Board has no plans to deviate from the pro-organized labor tack they have been pursuing for quite some time.
Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) set the general tone of the hearing in his opening remarks by noting that under President Obama’s administration, NLRB funding has increased over 8%, and the agency is requesting a budget increase that includes funds to create 30 new positions, while the overall caseload has remained the same or declined. Meanwhile, according to Blunt, the Board is ignoring precedent and pushing an activist agenda that includes a new joint-employer standard, the new ambush election rule and policies that promote so-called “micro” bargaining units.
However, the new joint employer test was certainly not the only Board doctrine under scrutiny at the hearing. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) questioned the practice of abusing blocking charges by labor organizations to drag out elections. Griffin gave no clear answer on how the Board planned on dealing with this practice, nor did Pearce satisfactorily explain to Chairman Blunt the hairsplitting involved in a Board decision in which a small subset of department store workers were held to constitute an appropriate bargaining unit.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) expressed particular concern over the Board’s recent solicitation of briefs in a Florida case regarding whether a union can collect a fee from non-union members to file a grievance. He pointed to established NLRB and Supreme Court precedent holding that unions are prohibited from preventing non-union employees from filing grievances, and questioned how the Board could call into question 40 years of established law. Pearce repeatedly said that the legal question was merely about whether the union should first collect a fee, and did not address the issue of what would happen if the non-union employee declined to first pay the fee to the union. Senator Alexander claimed this was an attack on right-to-work states.