At the NLRB, GOP Board Members Show How to Play Hard Ball
While the media was focusing on the drama over the Republican tax bill, last week the new Republican majority on the National Labor Relations Board issued five decisions overturning precedents: UPMC, Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, The Boeing Company, Raytheon Company, and PCC Structurals, Inc. Sharon Block has provided a short summary of each of these cases here. While each decision was substantively flawed, the substance of the decisions was not a surprise. But, as Block has observed, what was genuinely shocking was the speed with which they were issued and the flouting of procedural norms. The message that was delivered, like the message delivered last year when Republicans in the Senate refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, is that the Republicans play to win.
The Chamber of Commerce and Republicans in Congress often criticized the Obama NLRB for overturning precedent. But even if employers ended up on the losing side, they had no cause to claim that they were denied a fair hearing. Time and again, before the Obama Board overturned precedents, it first issued invitations to interested parties to file briefs addressing the matters under consideration. The Board, in turn, responded to the arguments raised in those briefs when it eventually issued its decisions. By contrast, the five decisions issued last week came out of the blue, with no notice to the public. In fact, in three of the cases, no party had even challenged the existing precedent. And in a fourth case, the Board took a dispute involving welders at a factory and used it to announce a new rule for cases involving non-acute health care facilities.