Anti-Labor Republicans Hit New Low

by DAVID MACARAY

For 76 years it’s been the job of the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) to enforce the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (passed in 1935 and better known as the Wagner Act).  The National Labor Relations Act is the legislation that governs such things as union elections and collective bargaining.

While there have been the usual ideological squabbles over the years, the NLRB has managed to take its cow to market under the Republican administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  There were disputes, but most were settled by compromise.  It wasn’t until George W. Bush became president that things got ugly.  And now, under Barack Obama, they’ve gotten way uglier.

Appointed by the president, the NLRB panel is required to have five members.  Traditionally, the panel tends to break along party lines, often with a 3-2 split in favor of the White House.  However, in the absence of all five members, the Board can still conduct business so long as it has a quorum, which is a minimum three members.  But in the absence of a quorum the Board can’t act.  It can’t interpret any language, pass down any rulings, can’t come to the aid of workers illegally discharged for union activism, can’t insist that employees be awarded back pay for overtime hours they were cheated out of, can’t settle a ULP (unfair labor practice charge) filed during contract negotiations.  Without a minimum of three members, it can’t do anything.

As it stands today the NLRB consists of three members, Mark Pearce and Craig Becker, both Democrats, and Brian E. Hayes, a Republican.  The reason there are only three members is because the Republicans in Congress have steadfastly refused to install anyone who remotely resembles a pro-union vote, consigning the Board to limp along on the bare minimum.  In fact, Becker himself is a “recess appointee” (appointed by Obama while Congress was not in session), which means his term expires at the end of the year.

Given how virulently hostile pro-corporate Republicans are toward regular working people, and how contemptuous they are of the 76-year old federal institution that was created specifically to guarantee those people’s rights, here’s the question:  What will they do in response to that 2-1 Democratic majority on the NLRB?  Answer: Brian E. Hayes, the lone Republican, has threatened to resign, leaving the Board without a quorum and without the power to act.

How outrageous is such a move?  Charles Craver, a George Washington University law professor, is quoted as saying that it is “as bad as it’s been in terms of partisanship in the 40 years I’ve been in the labor field.”  And this is William B. Gould IV, Clinton’s former NLRB chairman (who himself was criticized by organized labor for being too weak), weighing in on the Hayes’s threat:  “I have never heard of anything like that happening,” he said. “It’s unprecedented.”

This blatant obstructionism reminds us of the grade school kid who threatened to take his football and go home unless he was allowed to be quarterback.  Because Americans hate kids like that, it would be wonderful if President Obama, utilizing the bully pulpit, went on TV and exposed the Republicans for the sniveling cowards they are.  Alas, our president doesn’t have that much fight in him.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.  He can be reached atdmacaray@earthlink.net

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative