Apres Deadlock, le Deluge

By April 1, 2010Labor Unions

The New York Times covers the President’s recess appointments of Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the NLRB, “Deadlock Is Ending on Labor Board,” with a familiar exchange of hopes and fears for the new, activist board depending on your perspective. It closes with some interesting, speculation-inviting comments about potential NLRB rulemaking:

Harold P. Coxson Jr., a management lawyer and former Chamber of Commerce official, voiced concern that with Congress unlikely to enact legislation that makes it easier to unionize, the labor board “will make the difference in the debate.” Among the ideas that have stalled in Congress since the Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate is requiring snap unionization elections — within 7 to 10 days of pro-union workers petitioning for an election.

“We have heard that they are going to engage in rule-making that could impose ‘quickie’ union elections, perhaps in 5 to 10 days,” Mr. Coxson said. “The board will demonstrate with its agenda that they are not irrelevant.”

In an interview, Ms. Liebman declined to discuss the areas where the board might use rule-making.

“Rule-making is something that certainly academics have been talking about for some time,” she said. “I think it’s worth consideration. It’s often served up as the antidote to all the flip-flopping” between rulings by Democratic boards and Republican ones.

If rule-making proceeds, it could take place under a board makeup that will soon have a 4-1 makeup, Democratic vs. Republican members. (When will Becker and Pearce actually take office, anyway? The President announced his intent to make recess appointments, not the actual appointments.)

And here’s an interesting thought from Jeremy Lott, editor of the Capital Research Center’s Labor Watch, commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of the New Process Steel case dealing with the validity of two-member NLRB decisions.

For technical reasons, the Supreme Court is set to rule soon on whether the NLRB decisions of the last year-plus are valid. One labor watcher told me he hopes the justices throw the whole mess of them out. That way, he said, Becker and company would have their hands full for some time rehearing and reruling on the old cases. In his view, idle bureaucratic hands are a danger to our liberties.

Maybe. But these are capable people, and the work in those cases has already been done. Can’t imagine an adverse decision from the Court would cause that much of a delay.

P.S. On Wednesday, Shopfloor went an entire day without posting on Craig Becker and the National Labor Relations Board. Incroyable!

Although maybe the better exclamation is, iIncreíble! The White House announced the recess appointments in a Spanish news release, as well, “El Presidente Obama anuncia nombramientos de receso a puestos clave en el gobierno.”

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