Politics of the NLRB and Why it is Now Making so Many Pro-Union Rules and Decisions

Wanna know some of the politics behind the National Labor Relations Board and why it is now making so many pro-union rules and decisions?

The Board consists of 5 Members appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The 5 Members are generally divided as: 2 pro-business Republicans; 2 pro-union Democrats; and 1 Member who aligns with the political party of the sitting president.

In a perfect world, when a Republican is in the White House, the Board is 3-2 pro-business. When a Democrat is in the White House, the Board is 3-2 pro-union.

We don’t live in a perfect world.

Member’s seats expire at different times and the clock runs continuously regardless of whether the seat is filled or not.

This results in Members coming onto the Board and rolling off the Board at staggard times. This also results in some Members having abbreviated tenures on the Board depending on when they are confirmed by the Senate.

When cases are appealed to the Board, they are ruled on by a panel of 3 Members. With a 3-2 pro-union bent, there is a small chance that the panel will be 2 pro-business Members and 1 pro-union Member.

But today pro-union Democrats have a 3-1 edge on the Board because pro-business Republican Member John Ring’s term expired in December 2022.

With a 3-1 edge, it is impossible for pro-business Members to make up a majority of the 3-Member panel that rules on a case.

I don’t expect that seat to be filled anytime soon.

Both political parties leave seats unfilled to gain a greater advantage. The system discourages the majority party from filling vacancies.

Like the team that is winning in football or basketball that runs down the clock to preserve its advantage.

In August 2023 Member Wilcox’s term will expire. She will likely be renominated. Her nomination will probably be packaged with a pro-business Republican nominee to fill John Ring’s seat, but there is no guarantee that will happen. And there is no telling if or when the Senate will approve the nominations.

Until then, the pro-union NLRB will continue to feverishly issue pro-union decisions and change the landscape of labor laws.


Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.

Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.

You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.