“NLRB Reform Act” will turn board from advocate into umpire
Posted on January 28, 2015
Washington, D.C., January 28 – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate labor committee, today introduced the NLRB Reform Act to turn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from an advocate to an umpire and keep the general counsel from operating as an activist for one side or the other.
McConnell said: “The NLRB’s politically motivated decisions and controversial regulations threaten the jobs of hardworking Americans who just want to provide for their families. So it’s time to restore balance and bipartisanship. The NLRB Reform Act would help turn the board’s focus from ideological crusades that catch workers in the crossfire to the kind of common-sense, bipartisan solutions workers deserve.”
Alexander said: “This legislation will turn the National Labor Relations Board from a partisan advocate to the neutral umpire it ought to be, restoring stability to our nation's workplaces. It would also rein in the freewheeling general counsel by allowing businesses and unions to challenge complaints in federal court, and it would encourage timely decisions by saying either party to a case may appeal to the court of appeals if the board fails to act within a year.”
The NLRB Reform Act addresses three problems with the board—its partisanship, its activist general counsel, and its slow decision-making—with three solutions. The legislation will:
- End partisan advocacy: To put an end to the partisanship, this legislation would increase the number of board members from five to six, requiring an even split between Republicans and Democrats. All decisions would require the agreement of four board members, resulting in consensus from both sides. The five-year terms of the board members would be synched up over time so that a Republican and Democrat seat are up for nomination at the same time.
- Rein in the general counsel: The board’s most recent general counsels have stretched federal labor law to its limits—and sometimes beyond. With this bill, parties will have 30 days to seek review of a general counsel’s complaint in federal district court and will have new discovery rights allowing them to obtain memoranda and other documents relevant to the complaint within 10 days.
- Encourage timely decision-making: The NLRB is taking too long to resolve cases. Under the NLRB Reform Act, either party in a case before the board may appeal to a Federal Court of Appeals if the board fails to reach a decision in their case within one year. To further incentivize speedy decision-making, funding for the entire NLRB would be reduced by 20 percent if the board is not able to decide 90 percent of its cases within one year over the first two-year period post-reform.
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