WASHINGTON (PAI)—National Labor Relations Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce stepped up to defend his embattled agency, as the Republican-run House followed the GOP-controlled Senate’s lead and passed legislation overturning the board’s more modern and modest changes in union election representation rules. The House vote was 232-186, with three Republicans joining all the Democrats in defending the board.
But Pearce and his fellow NLRB members, as well as workers who count on the agency to – eventually – dispense justice and oversee union recognition elections, don’t have to worry about this GOP threat. President Barack Obama has already said he’ll veto the bill.
Pearce’s defense came just before the House voted on March 19 on a joint resolution to invoke the little-used Congressional Review Act, a law that lets Congress overturn agency rules. The Senate passed the resolution before, without enough votes to override a veto.
The only successful use of that law was when the Gingrich-run GOP Congress first passed it and then later used it to nullify an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule designed to reduce ergonomic, or repetitive-motion, injuries.
The GOP called the NLRB’s planned election rule changes, adopted by a party-line 3-2 board vote in December, the “ambush election” rule, because it could reduce the time bosses now use to delay and deny workers their rights to vote for representation or not. The NLRB’s rule, which would take effect April 14, also rolls all challenges to the election – such as who should be in the bargaining unit – into one post-election hearing, if that hearing is needed.
“The board remains committed to the critical work of this agency and fully carrying out the law,” Pearce said. “As Congress considers this resolution, this agency will continue productive conversations about the rule ensuring that our processes help fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act.
“It is undeniable that modernizing and streamlining the representation-case process is far overdue. Both businesses and workers deserve a process that is effective, fair, and free of unnecessary delays, which is exactly what this rule strives to accomplish.”
The NLRB’s proposed rule, which organized labor hailed as a small but positive step to help workers gain their rights on the job, would also modernize the agency’s procedures and would make workers’ names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails available to organizers during representation campaigns.