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H.R. 1120, the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act


In January 2012, President Obama installed three so-called recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was not in recess. In the wake of the president’s unprecedented action, efforts to overturn board rulings were initiated in various federal courts on the basis that the board itself was no longer legitimate. In a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the president’s recess appointments have been declared unconstitutional. In the wake of the decision, legal uncertainty surrounding the board has only increased. The Wall Street Journal reports dozens of employers, including Starbucks and CNN America, are seeking to void or block board rulings on the basis they are unconstitutional. Employees are beginning to do the same. The AFL-CIO stated the ruling has “seriously undermined enforcement of the law.” As a result, workers, employers, and unions will be forced to spend more time and money in federal court and have less confidence about what the future holds.


The law requires a labor board that functions properly and acts responsibly. Without it, the rights of workers are diminished and employers and unions are left in legal limbo. While the president is ultimately responsible for fixing the crisis he created, Congress cannot stand by and allow a dysfunctional board to wreak havoc in the nation’s workplaces. The Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120) responds to the ongoing legal chaos surrounding the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

  • Prevents further labor-management instability by requiring the board to cease all activity that requires a three member quorum. The bill also prohibits the board from enforcing any action taken after January 2012 that required a quorum.
  • Protects the right of workers to petition for union elections. The bill also does not prevent the NLRB regional offices from accepting and processing unfair labor practice charges filed by an injured party – worker, employer, or union.

  • Removes restrictions on the board’s authority after one of the following events occurs:
    • The U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the recess appointments; or
    • A board quorum is constitutionally confirmed by the Senate; or
    • The terms of the unconstitutional recess appointees expire when the First Session of the 113th Congress adjourns
  • Ensures any action involving the so-called recess appointees is reviewed and approved by a future board that has been constitutionally appointed.

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