Daily Archives: November 25, 2011

NLRB Board Member To Resign?

The National Labor Relations Board’s sole Republican member has threatened to resign, a move that would block the board’s two Democrats from adopting rules to speed union-organizing elections.

If Republican Brian Hayes resigns within the next week, the five-member board, which has had two vacancies for months, won’t be able to adopt the proposed rule because it will lack a quorum. The board was expected to drop to two members anyway at the end of the year, when Democrat Craig Becker’s term expires. An imminent resignation by Mr. Hayes would block most board activity several weeks earlier than anticipated.

In light of a shrinking board, Democratic Chairman Mark Pearce had scheduled a Nov. 30 board meeting to vote on the proposed union-organizing rule.

The agency said Mr. Pearce planned to suggest a scaled-back version of an earlier proposal. If the board approved it, they would draft a final rule and defer the remaining provisions for later consideration, the agency said last week.

Mr. Pearce didn’t disclose how an amended proposal would differ from the original plan announced in June. Republicans and business groups have opposed the effort since June and aren’t expected to embrace the changes. They’ve been unhappy with a number of NLRB moves since President Barack Obama took office, particularly the agency’s decision to side with the Machinists Union in filing a complaint about BoeingCo.’s decision to place a nonunion jet-production line at a new plant in South Carolina.

Mr. Hayes had spelled out his concerns in a letter Friday to Rep. John Kline (R., Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and an outspoken critic of the board. In that letter, Mr. Hayes said he was advised by Mr. Pearce that if he doesn’t agree with the proposal—but the board’s two Democrats do—he wouldn’t be allowed the time to file a dissent before the rule was approved and published.

His threat to resign was disclosed in a letter Mr. Pearce sent him earlier this week. In it, Mr. Pearce said he was “greatly disappointed” that Mr. Hayes had discussed with Mr. Kline “in great detail internal board deliberations and processes.” Mr. Pearce also took issue with Mr. Hayes’s description of board deliberations, calling them “inaccurate and misleading.”

He said Mr. Hayes had been kept informed and invited to fully participate in the board’s deliberations about amending the proposed rule, but had chosen not to do so. Mr. Hayes was also made aware that he would have the opportunity to express concerns at the Nov. 30 meeting, which would have been the “appropriate” time and place, Mr. Pearce said.

“Instead, upon the announcement of the public meeting, you immediately directed your Chief Counsel to inform the Board’s executive Secretary and the Board’s Solicitor that you would not participate,” Mr. Pearce wrote to Mr. Hayes. Mr. Pearce added that in mid-October “you indicated that, if the board proceeded with consideration of the matter, you would consider resigning your position.”

Mr. Hayes’s staff, through an agency spokeswoman, declined to comment or make him available for an interview through the rest of the holiday week.

The board’s original proposal to overhaul federal union-organizing election rules marked the most sweeping changes since 1947. It would compress the time between a formal call for a vote by workers on whether to join a union, and the election itself. New rules would be a victory for unions, which have long said the process needs to be faster to prevent employers from intimidating workers who are interested in joining the union. Employers have said the changes would give unions more power at employers’ expense, depriving companies of the adequate time needed to fight representation votes.

The NLRB has said the changes would curb unnecessary litigation and streamline procedures before and after elections, among other things.  Source:  Melanie Trottman, WSJ.com.

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