May 14 2015

Shelby Questions NLRB Leadership

WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, May 14, 2015 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today questioned the leadership of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

“The NLRB’s continued assault on small businesses through politically-motivated actions stifles economic growth in Alabama,” said Senator Shelby.  “As the Senator for a right-to-work state, I hear from my constituents about the negative impacts of the NLRB’s decisions and took the opportunity to press the NLRB Chairman and Chief Counsel on several of those concerns today.”

Below are excerpts of Senator Shelby’s questions:

NLRB “Blocking Charges”
Click here to view the video of Senator Shelby questioning the NLRB leadership on the NLRB’s attempt to keep union election campaigns open as long as possible.

SHELBY:  A lot of people are concerned, Mr. Chairman, that this Administration – you’re part of that – is trying to unionize America. What is the percentage of union workers in the American private sector? What is it – 10%?, 9%?, 8%? I am speaking not of the government, but of privately owned companies.

We’ll watch what you do. We are concerned about the direction in which you’re going.  I come from Alabama; we are a right to work state, and we want to stay that way.  If someone wants to join the union, that’s fine, but if they don’t want to join, that’s also fine.  There ought to be a balance there, and there has been until this Administration. You folks have gone in and are trying to change the rules.  Everybody knows that – it’s pretty transparent.

I have a question or two now. According to the National Labor Relations Board’s 2015 budget justification, one of the agency’s stated major goals is to fairly investigate, prosecute, and resolve unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act.  Oftentimes, unions file multiple rounds of what they call “blocking charges,” where union election petitions are placed on hold when an unfair labor practice claim is filed with NLRB.

A lot of us are concerned with the NLRB’s attempt to keep union election campaigns open, seems indefinitely, as long as possible through multiple rounds of “blocking charges,” – manipulating the system. For example, in Alabama, my state, there was a vote left open for over four years due to an ongoing, pending investigation when someone filed an unfair labor claim. I fear that without timely consideration, which is important, that the blocking charges are a guised form of extortion without end in sight. Where do you stop? Can you please explain to the committee what a “blocking charge” is, and if there is any definitive date in which the National Labor Relations Board must complete its investigation into the allegations to abide by its goal of – and these are your words – providing “prompt and fair” investigations?

What if an employer filed an unfair labor charge against the union trying to organize? Do you then close the election, do you keep it open, or what do you do?

Cost of Regulatory Compliance
Click here to view the video of Senator Shelby questioning the NLRB leadership on the cost of regulatory compliance.

SHELBY: We often hear about the cost of compliance of federal regulations everywhere, including within the NLRB.   Does the Board ever a conduct cost-benefit analysis on the rules that it promulgates? And if not, why not? In other words, what’s the cost-benefit of a rule? There are pluses and minuses everywhere.

Unit Determination
Click here to view the video of Senator Shelby questioning the NLRB leadership on the undue proliferation of bargaining units in an employers’ place of businesses.

SHELBY:  I think it is important from an employee, employer, and union perspective as to which employees are placed in a voting or bargaining unit.  This is especially true for employees who may have virtually all of their terms and conditions of employment determined by a labor agreement negotiated between their union and their employer. Unit determination is also extremely important for the employer, as a strike or work stoppage by one small micro-unit could effectively shut down a plant or all of the employer’s operation, as you know.  What steps, if any, has the Board taken to prevent the undue proliferation of bargaining units in an employers’ place of business? In other words, one employee could shut down the whole place. You’ve seen that happen.