WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 20, 2013 -
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I also want to thank you for convening this meeting on the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act.
For more than two years, the committee has engaged in aggressive and responsible oversight of the National Labor Relations Board. Our goal has always been to ensure the rights of workers, employers, and unions are protected. I know this has frustrated our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. However, it would be a dereliction of duty to turn a blind eye while the NLRB undermined the strength of America’s workplaces.
Our concern stems from an activist agenda that tilts the playing field in favor of union interests. For example, the board has advanced an ambush election scheme that stifles employer free speech and worker free choice. It has endorsed microunions that create division in workplaces. The board has also restricted access to secret ballot elections.
During the last year alone, the board made it more difficult for employers to investigate possible misconduct and chipped away workers’ right to refuse to fund union political activities. However, we are not here to debate whether we agree or disagree with these policies. Today’s debate is about how Congress can respond to the current crisis. When you consider the legal chaos unfolding across the country, it’s clear many are being harmed by a dysfunctional NLRB.
The board recently asserted jurisdiction over an Illinois non-profit entity operating a public charter school in Chicago. Disappointed with the outcome, the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff is now citing Noel Canning in an effort to overturn the board’s decision. An employee residing in New Jersey has filed several unfair labor charges against the International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local No. 1. The union is challenging the authority of the regional director based on the Noel Canning ruling.
We’ve learned more than 80 businesses are doing the same. The AFL-CIO stated enforcement of the law has been “seriously undermined” and I completely agree. A few short years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned hundreds of board decisions issued without the required three member quorum. Employers and workers faced considerable uncertainty while the board spent years reconsidering those cases.
Is that what we want at a time when businesses are struggling and 12 million Americans are searching for work? Approximately 600 decisions are now legally suspect. That number grows each day the board continues to conduct business as usual.
The Supreme Court recognized that achieving stability in labor relations was the “primary objective of Congress in enacting the National Labor Relations Act.” The bill before us today will prevent additional instability from affecting workplaces in the wake of the president’s unprecedented recess appointment scheme.
The amendment in the nature of a substitute strengthens the bill by clarifying the board cannot make any interagency appointments that require a board quorum – such as regional directors – until this matter is resolved. This will ensure the legal uncertainty hanging over the board does not extend to regional offices as well.
I urge my colleagues to the support the substitute and the underlying bill.
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