The NLRB recently encountered some inquisitive U.S. Senators during a subcommittee hearing over the Board’s 2016 budget proposal. The proposal asks for a $3.8 million increase so that it can hire more than 30 full-time investigators. NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Board General Counsel Richard Griffin told the Senators that these additional investigators would help the Board process cases faster. Interestingly, the Board is asking to hire additional investigators even though its case intake has decreased.
The Senators also questioned Board officials on several issues including union election rules, joint-employer theories, and micro-bargaining units, all of which have received significant attention from the Board recently. When the Senators asked Griffin about why he wanted to change the joint-employer standard, Griffin explained that the Board only sought to adopt the new standard in consideration of instances where a franchisor exerts controls over a franchisee through technology. Griffin clarified that his recent complaint alleging McDonald’s and its franchisees are joint employers will be viewed through the existing standard.
The parties also addressed the Board’s new election rules. When asked about privacy concerns related to the new election rules, Chairman Pearce responded that there haven’t been any documented instances of a union sharing information with other unions or organizations. He didn’t say sharing hasn’t happened, it just hasn’t been “documented.”
The Board’s decision to seek a budget increase to hire additional investigators is a strong indication the Board intends to become more active in the coming year.