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Report Ponders a Democratic NLRB

Fasten your seatbelts for a Democratic National Labor Relations Board. That is the warning that opens a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that considers how the labor board is likely to change under the Obama Administration. "After eight years of Republican majorities and relatively well-balanced NLRB decisions, most of which were accepted by the federal circuit courts of appeals, the Obama Administration will usher in a new Democratic, pro-union majority set to reverse Bush Board decisions and much more," says the report, The National Labor Relations Board in the Obama Administration: What Changes to Expect.

As Michael Fox explains at his blog, Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer, the report was written for the U.S. Chamber by two of his partners at Ogletree Deakins, the father/son duo of Harold P. Coxson Jr. and Christopher R. Coxson. Among labor lawyers, much speculation of late has been focused on the potential implications of the Employee Free Choice Act. But while the fate of the EFCA remains uncertain, the election of President Obama means that changes in NLRB precedent are sure to come, Fox suggests.

With three vacancies on its five-seat board and the two occupied seats split between Democrat Wilma B. Liebman and Republican Peter C. Schaumber, the NLRB has been crippled in its decisionmaking of late. Obama has nominated three lawyers to fill the vacant seats: Craig Becker, associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union; Mark G. Pearce, a union-side labor lawyer in Buffalo, N.Y.; and Brian E. Hayes, a Republican who is labor policy director on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. But the Senate has shown no urgency to act on the nominations and the U.S. Chamber is pushing for a full hearing on the nomination of Becker, calling his views "out of the mainstream."

If the Chamber is gearing up for a fight against Becker, this newly published report is its call to arms. The report includes an entire section devoted to Becker's writings in law reviews and elsewhere, noting, "It is unusual that a nominee to the NLRB has written so prolifically on the NLRA." The bulk of the report is devoted to an analysis of "Bush Board Decisions Likely to be Reversed." As a press release announcing the report says, "The purpose of this publication is to provide an overview of how the law administered by the NLRB is likely to change during the Obama Administration." The bottom line, the report concludes, is that a Democratic board's rulings "collectively will increase union leverage in every aspect of labor-management relations."

Regardless of whether you agree with the Chamber's perspective on this, its report makes for an interesting read for anyone interested in the law and policy of labor relations.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 15, 2009 at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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