Issue in Focus
Nov 01 2019
Our jobs are an incredibly important part of our lives. They allow us to provide for ourselves and our families, to contribute to society at large, and are crucial to our dignity as human beings. So it’s a huge problem when we experience injustice in the workplace – whether through unfair labor practices, contract disputes, or collective bargaining issues in unions.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency, was established in the 1930s with the intention of speedily resolving these kinds of problems in the workplace. Consisting of a general counsel and five political appointees, the NLRB has the power to investigate, prosecute, and rule on labor cases.
But unfortunately, the NLRB has consistently abused these court-like powers over the years – proving to be unfair, inconsistent, and ineffective in carrying out its intended goal.
First, the structure of the NLRB is poorly suited to ensure due process for either employers or employees. It in effect operates as a sham court, failing to follow normal procedural standards – like rules of evidence – that protect the involved parties in the court system. And because its membership is politically appointed, it tends to cave to political pressures and considerations.
On top of that, the frequent turnover of the NLRB membership means that its decisions and rules are constantly changing – issuing partisan, controversial, and disruptive opinions.
For example, in 2015 the NLRB upended more than 30 years of settled law in determining how franchises, franchisees and employers interact in the Browning-Ferris Industries decision. The NLRB then overruled this standard in another case in 2017, but in February of 2018 reversed those standards again and re-established the Browning-Ferris decision.
This unpredictable and capricious process damages the economy and stalls employers from making decisions that would otherwise to lead to job growth.
And finally, the NLRB fails to quickly and effectively resolve complaints, operating under a bureaucratic labyrinth of rules.
That’s why this week, I introduced the Protecting American Jobs Act – a bill that would strip the NLRB of its power to hear and adjudicate labor disputes, and would return this power back to federal courts. Under the bill, the NLRB would retain the power to conduct investigations but would not be allowed to adjudicate them.
There is no need for a politically charged federal agency to have the power to act as judge, jury, and executioner for labor disputes in our country.
By returning these powers to the courts, where they rightfully belong under the system established by the Constitution, we can finally restore fairness and accountability to our labor laws, and effectively ensure justice in the workplace.