As sources predicted to HUMAN EVENTS late Tuesday evening, the “Obama majority” on the National Labor Relations Board did in fact refrain Wednesday from passing a highly controversial rule change sought by union bosses. Though the odds are now extremely slim that the so-called “quickie election” change will ever be enacted, controversy still looms large for the 77-year-old regulatory panel, and a showdown between the President and Republicans in Congress over the NLRB seems certain in 2012.
Faced with the prospect that lone Republican member Brian Hayes would resign from the NLRB over the issue, and thus leave the panel without a quorum, Obama appointees Mark Pearce and Craig Becker moved forward with only some portions of the proposal designed to speed up union elections, removing the most controversial change, which would have shortened the waiting period for a secret ballot vote to 10 to 14 days. Currently, companies have five to six weeks to make their case before a union election at a work site. As expected, Pearce and Becker, both of whom have close ties to organized labor, voted in favor of the watered-down proposal, which limits litigation surrounding union elections, and Hayes voted no.
At this point, it’s very doubtful that the board will revisit the hot-button quickie election issue and enact the full package. In addition, House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R.-Minn.) has offered legislation to block any NLRB rules change to union elections.
Hayes’ resignation would have disabled the five-member board, which is acting with two empty seats, and kept it from dealing with more cases. He has threatened to resign because his exodus would cause “collateral damage” to the NLRB. Meanwhile, Becker gained his seat on the NLRB through a recess appointment, by which the President has the authority to temporarily fill federal vacancies when the Senate is not in session. When Becker’s appointment expires at the end of the year, the board will have only two members regardless, and thus be unable to rule on any new business. Republicans in Congress have vowed to block any new Obama nominees to the board, and House Republicans have worked to keep the House of Representatives they control in session year-round as a roadblock to any future recess appointments.
It’s a good bet that the NLRB will be the first round of inevitable clashes next year between the President and Republicans in Congress over recess appointments.
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