Does Obama’s NLRB Deserve the Negative Press it Receives?

Over the past 8 years, Obama’s NLRB has overturned 4,500 years of precedent. The Board has overturned 91 precedents, averaging more than 45 years per decision. The Ambush Election rules alone overturned a combined 454 years of protocol according to a study by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Workplace Policy Institute.

Some of the major changes that radically reshaped workplace operations include establishing micro unions, eliminating dues withholding after the collective bargaining agreement expires, holding companies liable for the behavior of other companies like franchises and subcontractors, shortening the length of a union campaign, and requiring employers to disclose the cost and details associated with labor relations advice.

The study cited above says, “In each case where the Obama Board changed the law, the resulting new law became more favorable to labor interests than it did under previous Board rulings – frequently at the expense of promoting stable bargaining and economic growth and without regard for balancing the interests of business, labor, and employees under the Act.”

The method of overturning law also departed from general progression in labor law. Rather than building up case law and using those decisions to chip away at longstanding practices without running afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, the Obama Board made radical changes in a single decision. This method of overturning precedent has hurt the ability of the Board to justify its decisions on appeal. For example, per D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Janice Rogers Brown, when ordering the NLRB to pay a Michigan healthcare provider litigation fees for pursuing bad faith litigation, “The Board’s conduct before us manifests a stubborn refusal to recognize any law. The Board’s obstinacy forced Heartland to waste time and resources fighting for a freedom the Board knew our precedent would provide.” “Administrative hubris does not get the last word under our Constitution,” she continued.

Heather Greenaway, spokeswoman at the Workforce Fairness Institute, said that “the Obama-era NLRB will be remembered as an anti-jobs agency that rewarded Big Labor cronies by rolling back years of long-standing precedent.” While this may be her opinion, the above backs it up with accurate facts and iron-clad statistics.

Matt Austin who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at