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Image courtesy of Kittisak  FreeDigitalPhotosnet

Image courtesy of Kittisak | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Supreme Court's Ruling Puts Heavy Load on NLRB

The Supreme Court ruled last week that President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority in January 2012 when he filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was in recess.

The court's ruling has put the NLRB into scramble mode because it probably will now have to revisit many of the cases it adjudicated during the 18-month period when Obama's three now-invalid recess board appointees were active. The number of cases the NLRB adjudicated during that period is in the hundreds—in fact, it's 436 by The Wall Street Journal's count.

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce issued a statement acknowledging that his agency may have to revisit many of those now-in-limbo decisions. He emphasized that the current NLRB has "a full contingent of five Senate-confirmed members who are prepared to fulfill our responsibility to enforce the National Labor Relations Act" and added that the board is "committed to resolving any cases affected by [the Supreme Court's] decision as expeditiously as possible."

But the NLRB's upcoming caseload may not be quite as onerous as all that. Several news sites have reported that labor lawyers and other NLRB insiders expect most of the 400-odd cases at issue to be dropped because it's highly likely they would be reaffirmed by the current board, which has a majority of confirmed members nominated by President Obama. Reports Fox News:

Many of [the cases] may not be controversial … but [about 100] of those decisions were challenged in federal court—meaning the board could be pressed to at least revisit those cases. …

Among the 436 cases was a decision protecting workers from being fired for complaining about their jobs on social media; decisions that struck down employer policies barring workers from discussing private matters involving other employees or discussing their own internal investigations; and a decision telling employers to give unions a chance to bargain before imposing certain disciplinary actions.

Obviously these are critical issues for manufacturing companies that have unionized workforces, so it makes sense that the "new and improved" National Labor Relations Board should take a fresh look at those cases.

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