On a federal level, with the House of Representatives in Republican control and the Senate controlled by Democrats, it is unlikely any significant labor or employment legislation will make it to President Obama. The current fight over the power of the National Labor Relations Board is indicative of this overall split.
The Republican-led House of Representatives is attacking the decisionmaking power of the now 3-member National Labor Relations Board. In September, the House passed H.R. 2587, the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act” as a direct response to the NLRB’s action against a single employer, Boeing. The NLRB claims Boeing has transferred work away from its unionized plant in Washington State to a new non-union aircraft assembly facility in South Carolina in retaliation for past strikes. The new bill, which was passed along party lines in the House and has very little chance of success in the Democratic Senate, would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from ordering any employer to restore, relocate, or transfer employment, or to rescind outsourcing.
In the last two months, the House Education and Workforce Committee announced two additional bills which would also significantly limit the powers of the NLRB. The “Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act,” H.R. 3094, is a direct response to two NLRB actions in late August. First, the bill targets the NLRB’s proposed regulations to speed up unionization elections. The bill would require 14 days between the employer’s receipt of the representative petition and the pre-election hearing, and a total of 35 days before the election can be held. Second, the bill counters the Board’s decision in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile by requiring the Board to avoid “fragmentation” of bargaining units. This bill is currently being amended in committee. While it has a minimal chance to pass the Senate, it may have broader appeal than the other anti- NLRB bills, depending on its final form.
The “National Labor Relations Reorganization Act,” H.R. 2926, would abolish the NLRB and transfer its oversight of elections to the Office of Labor- Management Standards of the Department of Labor. Further, the NLRB’s enforcement authority would be vested in a new Bureau of Labor Relations Enforcement within the Department of Justice. Representative Trey Gowdy, the bill’s sponsor, declared upon introducing the bill: “The NLRB has lost its usefulness and needs to be dissolved.” Senate Democrats, however, are not very likely to be persuaded that this is the case.