Tuesday, December 6, 2016

“Who needs the NLRB?”

Bloomberg BNA reporters Chris Opfer and Ben Penn asked this question in their weekly column of workplace musings: “Who needs the NLRB?” (a question I’ve asked myself more than once over the past eight years.)

Said Chris Opfer:
The Trump team also has a couple of slots to fill on the National Labor Relations Board. In the meantime, Republicans in Congress are salivating at the chance to revamp the board, given GOP control of both the White House and the Capitol. “The NLRB is going to look a lot different” Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) told Bloomberg Law reporter Tyrone Richardson and me earlier this month.One of Roe’s colleagues on the Education and the Workforce Committee might take it a step further. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) isn’t so sure that the board should even continue to exist.

“I would say we ought to consider whether we need a board at all,” Byrne told me outside the House floor last week. “Let’s put everything into statutory law and continue to have the NLRB function as regional units for the enforcement of the law. If they need to go to an administrative law judge, they could still go there and they could go ahead and go through the court process from there. But I wonder why, with settled law, we need to have a National Labor Relations Board going forward at all.”
He concludes that “the NLRB ain’t going anywhere,” and I agree. But, as with any change in parties in the White House, over the next few years we should expect to see a systematic undoing of the more controversial policies of the Obama NLRB, including its stance on employee handbooks, social media policies, email access, and joint employment.

While President-elect Trump and I may not see eye-to-eye on many of his policies, we certainly agree that we need smaller government agencies that regulate less, and, when they do regulate, do so by interpreting existing laws and not making new ones. As active as the NLRB has been over the past eight years, a business friendly NLRB is as good a place to start as any.