Labor board still grappling with Supreme Court defeat

The National Labor Relations Board is still grappling with the fallout from last year’s defeat at the Supreme Court, the board chairman told lawmakers Tuesday.

In a case known as NLRB v. Noel Canning, the high court last June overturned a set of President Obama’s recess appointments to the labor board, concluding he overstepped in exerting his authority to fill vacancies while the Senate was technically in session.

As a result, the board has had to revisit more than 100 labor cases that were decided while the NLRB was unconstitutionally constructed.


NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce testified Tuesday that the board is still playing catch-up on many of those cases. In fact, the board has 27 remaining cases to decide, a feat it hopes to accomplish this summer.

“To that end, my colleagues and I share a commitment to resolving all of these cases within one year of the issuance of the Supreme Court decision,” Pearce said during a House budget hearing.

Republicans seemed more concerned about the NLRB’s ongoing efforts to reform U.S. labor standards. They attacked Pearce for decisions from the labor board that would speed up union elections, hold corporations responsible for the labor violations of their franchisees and allow employees to form multiple unions within a single company.

“Indeed, labor law continues to stir spirited debate, as we have seen play out here in Congress,” Pearce admitted.

Last week, Congress voted to block the NLRB’s controversial policy that would speed up union elections.

Republicans refer to it as the “ambush election” rule, because they say it would allow employees to vote on a union election in as little as two weeks after a petition is filed.

During the hearing, Republican chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said it seemed like a “one-sided rule.”

“I think that two weeks is certainly not enough time to organize something as important as the election of union representation,” Cole said.

Republicans also criticized the NLRB’s “joint employer” standard that holds large corporations like McDonald’s responsible for the labor violations of independent franchise operators.

The NLRB’s decision to allow multiple “micro-unions” to organize within a single company was also called into question.

“I wonder if one employee could now be considered a bargaining unit?” Cole asked. “Isn’t the ‘collective’ the point of collective bargaining?”