Politicizing the NLRB, II

The National Labor Relations Board’s Office of Public Affairs issued a news release Wednesday announcing that the NLRB was seeking a court order to force a Buffalo, N.Y., egg processing company to rehire union supporters it had fired. The release is more evidence of an NLRB under Chairman Wilma Liebman that is abandoning its official role as a disinterested, quasi-judicial agency to involve itself in politics. It’s a disturbing trend.

There are 10 news releases listed on the 2010 news release page of the NLRB. Of the five releases that deal with disputes between organized labor and employers, four report on actions the board took against the employer. The other announces a union withdrawing its request for an election. (See list in extended entry.)

We’d previously noted two other releases, one highlighting a speech in which Liebman expressed views on labor policy and the other putting her support behind the pending nominations to the NLRB. (See post, “Politicizing the NLRB.”)

Even if the statements are intended to be neutral, the selection of topics of a news releases — in this case, decisions against businesses — imply a bias that a quasi-judicial board should assiduously seek to avoid.

Liebman’s current role is appropriately akin to that of an appellate judge, the chief judge of a court that hears appeals. We do not recall appellate judges sending out news releases saying, “The court today found that the defendant was guilty and took tough action to punish him.” Nor do appellate judges issue releases saying, “The President has nominated qualified candidates to the court, and I fully support these nominations.” Judges also avoid lobbying on policy issues, as well.

President Obama’s nomination of SEIU attorney Craig Becker to the NLRB has sparked protest from employer groups because Becker’s writings suggest he views the board as vehicle to enact pro-labor policies. Business fears a board that issues ruling based on politics, not on facts and the law.

While all the attention is directed toward the Becker nomination, we wonder whether that politicizing is already under way.


Mar 3 2010

NLRB seeks injunction against New York egg processor
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Jan 26 2010

Chicago radio station must negotiate before adding in-studio cameras, says NLRB complaint
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Jan 22 2010

NLRB complaint seeks back pay for 400 New York employees
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Jan 8 2010

NLRB Judge finds Michigan employer must reinstate entire union workforce after illegal firings
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