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Labor: NLRB in the news

Thanks to new rules, employers may begin to suffer labor pains

Capping off a month in which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was in the news on almost a weekly basis, President Obama announced on Jan. 4 that he intended make three “recess appointments” to the NLRB: Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin and Republican Terence F. Flynn. These appointments will restore the NLRB to its full composition of five members.

The board’s membership had fallen to two members one day earlier upon the expiration of another recess appointment, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the NLRB has no authority to act without a three-person quorum. Thus, without a quorum, the board would have been unable to issue rulings or new regulations.

Among other things, the amendments will:

  • Give pre-election hearing officers broader authority to limit the issues the parties can present for resolution prior to the union election
  • Allow post-hearing briefs only at the discretion of the hearing officer
  • Eliminate the automatic right to pre-election appeals to the NLRB
  • Make NLRB review of post-election disputes discretionary
  • Eliminate the 25-day waiting period following the direction of an election

These new rules represented a “watered-down” version of a more comprehensive and highly controversial set of changes the NLRB had proposed in June 2011.

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Andrew Tanick

Andy Tanick is a partner at national labor and employment firm Ford & Harrison LLP. Andy has over 20 years of experience handling employment cases...

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