The NLRB is out of business…maybe

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A DC Circuit court ruling may have put the National Labor Relations Board out of business - or not.  It depends on who you want to listen to.

If you line up on the Conservative side of things, then this ruling is the greatest day in the history of the United States since Ronald Reagan was conceived by his parents in an apartment on the second floor of a late 19th century commercial building in Tampico, Illinois.

Here’s a sampling of that converation:

If you are on the Progressive team, this decision is yet another clear sign of the conspiracy of corporate greed running our government today.

It’s easy to pick fun at the politics behind this decision, but there are some very serious implications to having the NRLB rendered inert, as pointed out by Eric B. Meyer of the excellent  Employer Handbook blog.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a two-member Board is powerless to exercise any authority.

At the time of the three recess appointments, the Board only had two members.Therefore, by ruling that Obama’s three recess appointments are unconstitutional, today’s appellate-court ruling effectively moots every decision from the Board subsequent to the recess appointments, most of which went against employers.

So the NLRB is an agency without a job – finished – kaput…or not.

Mark Gaston Pearce, the NLRB chair issued his own statement that more or less telling the DC Circuit Court can go screw themselves.

“The Board respectfully disagrees with today’s decision and believes that the President’s position in the matter will ultimately be upheld. It should be noted that this order applies to only one specific case, Noel Canning, and that similar questions have been raised in more than a dozen cases pending in other courts of appeals.

In the meantime, the Board has important work to do. The parties who come to us seek and expect careful consideration and resolution of their cases, and for that reason, we will continue to perform our statutory duties and issue decisions.”

So let’s round this up in a neat little package.

  1. The President made unconstitutional recess appointments.
  2. The Appeals Court said that makes the agency non-functional.
  3. The Agency itself says “eff that, we’re gonna keep on keepin on.

Hello, Supreme Court.  Goodbye, effective labor relations policymaking in the United States for the forseeable future.   And it isn’t going to get better any time soon. In fact, it could get far worse from a business perspective, if these guys ever get traction, now is the time to move beyond the NLRB.

Labor should take this opportunity to look beyond the NLRB as the sole source of workers’ labor rights. The court’s decision on Friday has made apparent that the board has become too weak to remain the only venue where workers can seek relief for labor rights violations.

It is time to broaden the rights of workers by making labor organizing a civil right, so when employers illegitimately fire or discriminate against workers for organizing a union, workers can appeal not only to the NLRB, but also to a federal court.

Stay tuned. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

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