National Labor Relations Board Decisions Brought into Question

International Musician, October 2010 | Go to article overview

National Labor Relations Board Decisions Brought into Question


Between January 2008 and March 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued about 600 decisions regarding union rights and unfair labor practices-all of which could now, potentially, be rendered null and void. During that time period, the NLRB operated with only two of the required three members.

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 states that, ideally, the NLRB should be made up of five members, but can continue to operate with just three. In December 2007, four members sat on the board and the expiration of the provisional appointments of two of those members was approaching. New appointments were stalled due to gridlock in Congress over presidential NLRB nominees. Anticipating being shorthanded, the four members voted to delegate full authority to the soon-to-be-reduced board.

For more than two years, NLRB Chair Wilma B. Liedman and NLRB Member Peter C. Schaumber (whose appointment expired at the end of August) made decisions on approximately 600 cases. One of those cases involved New Process Steel and the International Association of Machinists. The NLRB ruled that New Process Steel was required to honor the machinists unions' contract, but the employer challenged the authority of the NLRB to issue that decision with only two members. The case made it to the Supreme Court, which concluded June 17 that the NLRB should not have ruled on the case with less than the required number of members. …

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