Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations

Last week, the House passed legislation I introduced to address the ongoing legal chaos that surrounds the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). On January 4, 2012, President Obama made three so-called recess appointments to the NLRB while the Senate was regularly meeting in pro forma session. These appointments were unprecedented—no other president has bypassed the constitutionally-mandated nomination process while the Senate was in session. Although the White House claims such appointments were within the president’s power, the record shows Democrats have opposed such tactics. As recently as 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated that over the Thanksgiving holiday, he would be “keeping the Senate in pro forma to prevent recess appointments” that could have been made by President Bush.

By ignoring the constitutional obligation to have the Senate advise and consent to his appointments, President Obama opened the door for a legal challenge to the actions taken by NLRB. On January 25, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously held that these appointments violated the Constitution, throwing into question the validity of all rulings made by the NLRB since January 4, 2012. Since the recess appointments, the NLRB has issued roughly 600 decisions, the outcomes of which are now very uncertain. American workers deserve better.

In light of the court decision, I joined Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and others to write to President Obama, urging him to nominate new appointees to the NLRB and to work with the Senate to confirm them. We also wrote NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce encouraging the NLRB to cease all activity until the legal chaos surrounding the board is resolved. Chairman Pearce, unfortunately, has continued to push ahead with NLRB business despite the fact that every decision made will be subject to legal challenge.

The NLRB is tasked with ensuring American workers have a fair workplace. It conducts union elections and works to prevent (or remedy) unlawful practices on the part of employers or unions. The current NLRB, however, has taken a sharp turn to the left instead of acting as an impartial umpire. We must protect workers and employers alike, and continued Board activity does the exact opposite.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced he would nominate five new members to the NLRB. These members will have to go through the confirmation process in the Senate. While the president finally made the decision to uphold the Constitution, it still doesn’t right the wrongs of nearly a year and a half. Every single American worker deserves better.

To address this problem, I introduced H.R. 1120, the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act. This bill is simple. It would require the Board to cease all activity until the legal issues surrounding the legitimacy of the so-called recess appointments are resolved. The legislation would also require a Senate-confirmed quorum (3 members) to review all the decisions the Board made while the appointments were in question. The House passed my bill on Friday, and I hope this bill will help achieve the certainty workers deserve.

Source: Communication from U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D., 1st District of Tennessee