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House Passes Bill in Response to Ongoing NLRB Legal Crisis

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120). Sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chair of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, the legislation requires the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to cease all activity requiring a three member quorum until the legal uncertainty surrounding the board is appropriately resolved.

“The president’s unprecedented recess appointment scheme has crippled the work of the board,” said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “Roughly 600 decisions are now constitutionally suspect and that number grows with each new decision. Workers, employers, and unions are in limbo. Despite claims to the contrary, the overwhelming majority of business before the NLRB is addressed by regional offices and will continue under this proposal. Today the House has simply instructed the board to stop exacerbating a crisis that is harming the American workforce.”

“I am pleased the House passed this important legislation,” said Rep. Roe. “The NLRB is tasked with ensuring American workers have a fair workplace by administering the law. President Obama’s so-called recess appointments left the board in a state of legal chaos and my bill will ensure the NLRB cannot continue with business as usual until new members are confirmed and the nomination process returns to regular order.”

In January 2012 President Obama installed three so-called recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was not in recess. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently ruled these appointments unconstitutional. In the wake of the court’s decision, legal uncertainty surrounding the board has increased. Unions and employers are now citing the court decision in their efforts to void or block board rulings. The AFL-CIO stated the ruling has “seriously undermined enforcement of the law.”

As approved by the House, H.R. 1120 will:
  • Prevent 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 or appointing any agency personnel that require a quorum.
  • Protect 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.
  • Remove 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.
  • Ensure any action involving the so-called recess appointees is reviewed and approved by a future board that has been constitutionally appointed.

To learn more about H.R. 1120, click here.

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