The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has approved new union representation rules to ensure workers can freely exercise one basic right we hold dear in this country—the right to vote.
The new rules make union representation elections fairer by simplifying procedures, deferring litigation and setting shorter deadlines for hearings and filings. Currently when workers petition the NLRB for an election, it can take months and even years before they can cast a vote. Companies often use this time to threaten, scare and discourage workers from voting.
The new union election rules are set to take effect April 30, 2012.
Although the new rule makes modest changes in the procedures for handling election cases, when it was proposed earlier this year, business groups and Republican lawmakers went apoplectic and mounted a massive campaign against the NLRB. In November 2011, House Republicans approved a bill that gives employers new tools to combat and delay elections by workers who try to form unions. It was a direct response to the new NLRB election rule. The Senate didn’t take up the measure.
Congressional Republicans have made nearly 50 separate assaults on the NLRB since January 2011 by holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and proposing bills to gut the agency’s funding and eliminate its ability to hold employers accountable for violating workers’ rights, according to American Rights at Work (ARAW).
President Obama Recess Appoints NLRB Members
President Obama utilized recess appointments to name three new members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the White House announced.
Since January 1, the board has just two members and cannot carry out most business. Republican Senate leaders have said they will block any NLRB nominations in a move most regard as an attempt to shut down the NLRB. That is part of an overall strategy that has bottled up hundreds of Obama administration nominations. But with the Senate in recess, Obama is allowed to make appointments that last through the current session of Congress.
President Obama appointed Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, as well as Republican Terry Flynn. Without the apppointments, the federal agency wouldn’t have had a quorum to issue valid rulings.
The recess appointments come after the NLRB was rendered inoperable due to the expiration of Craig Becker’s term on January 3. That lowered the number of people sitting on the board to two, below the quorum threshold.