On July 19, 2017, the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives voted to cut the budget of the National Labor Relations Board ("Board") by 9%. Management may be happy for many reasons, including the alleged waste by federal agencies, to decrease the federal deficit, and because the Board is perceived as pro-union.
However, management should be careful what it wishes wish for. On Saturday evening, July 22, 2017, union pickets walked in front of a new hotel in downtown Chicago carrying picket signs. The picket signs did not identify the name of the employer with whom the union was having a dispute. Was the union having a dispute with the hotel or a construction subcontractor? In addition, the picket signs did not identify the reason for the picketing. Was the union picketing because of the company's unfair labor practices, or because the company was not paying the area standard wages? Were the pickets obstructing ingress into and egress out of the hotel? If so, what steps could the hotel take to stop the picketing?
The Board provides the solution. Management wants and needs the Board to stop unions from unlawful picketing activities. The hotel or the construction subcontractor may file an unfair labor practice against a union engaged in unlawful picketing. The Board may have a special unit of investigators and attorneys to investigate and resolve unlawful picketing issues within days. These efforts include filing a temporary restraining order in federal court, which could lead to a permanent injunction. Merely making budget cuts may sound good, but management needs to understand the role of government agencies to enforce the laws for the benefit of all stakeholders – unions, employees and companies.