For winners, Philip Miscimarra, who was Acting Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, gave up “acting” and got real with appointment as NLRB Chairman. With two Democrats still on the Board and two vacant seats, Chairman Miscimarra, currently the lone Republican, continues to be outvoted 2-1 on many decisions of importance. Meanwhile, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin, an Obama appointee, stays in charge of Board policy on issuing complaints in unfair labor practice cases and their settlement. General Counsel Griffin has indicated that he does not intend to step down before his term expires in November 2017.
As we have mentioned, three Republican labor lawyers have been mentioned as possible nominees to fill the two vacant slots on the Board. Once the Board has a Republican majority, it may take a more balanced approach on issues including representation cases, employer handbooks and policies, deferral to arbitration, and the “employee” status of college students.
Another winner is R. Alexander Acosta, who was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Labor and was sworn in on April 28. Secretary Acosta is expected to chart a new path for the Department of Labor. Press reports indicate that he has chosen a deputy for his team, but others need to be brought on board before important policy positions are staked out. At this point, we believe the DOL will adopt a less-adversarial, more “assistance-oriented” approach with employers, and the agency may withdraw its appeal of the preliminary injunction against the DOL’s overtime rule. The injunction was issued last November, only about a week before the rule was to take effect.
The “loser” side includes the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. The SEIU recently announced budget cuts of 30 percent for the coming year. Similarly, the AFL-CIO in late February announced that it was reorganizing and cutting staff, with reports of several dozen employees losing jobs.