FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Anti-Labor Republicans Hit New Low

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

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail