The White House announced last week that it had sent to the Senate the nominations of Craig Becker, Mark Gaston Pearce, and Brian Hayes to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is imparted with the task of enforcing the National Labor Relations Act; a law that regulates union-management relations. If confirmed by the Senate, the Board would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 16, 2007!
The Board has recently faced legal challenges regarding the existence of quorum with only two Board members deciding cases. ( See recent article in July newsletter). The existing two Board members have worked diligently to overcome the mounting backlog of cases since 2007. The existing Board members vowed to continue to decide cases with the intent of avoiding a complete halt for an indefinite period of time. These concerns will soon diminish with the recent announcement of nominations that could result in a full panel and thus establish indisputable quorum.
By tradition, three of the five Board seats are filled by individuals of the same political party as the President in office. The first nominee, Mr. Hayes, currently serves as the Republican Labor Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). Mr. Hayes's term would expire December 16, 2012. The second nominee, Mr. Pearce, is in private practice with a Buffalo, NY law firm where he represents management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. Mr. Pearce's term would end August 27, 2013. Finally, Mr. Becker, Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, would have a term ending December 16, 2014.
Typically, a full Board allows for a more timely resolution of labor disputes. It is anticipated that the present two- to three-year lag in issuing decisions will be reduced significantly once a full Board is confirmed. Any employer with a case pending before the Board knows that a delay in resolving a pending unfair labor practice or a representation case can seriously frustrate any organizational improvement in the years a case remains pending before the Board. Hopefully employers will get relief earlier than previously expected.
If you have any questions, please contact an experienced Wessels Sherman attorney. Contact us.