What to Expect from an NLRB with a Slashed Budget

When President Trump released his 2018 budget, he slashed the NLRB’s apportioned amount by 6% and called for a staff reduction despite a projected increase to the Board’s caseload. The 6% reduction would result in the lowest total operating budget for the Board since 2009 (President Obama’s first year). Likewise, staff reductions would place the body-count at 400 below the 15-year average of 1,700 full-time employees. Right-sizing at its finest.

If Trump’s budget-slashing survives Congressional review, I expect several things to happen, all of which are good for companies.

  1. The NLRB will increase the pressure to settle unfair labor practice charges early to prevent NLRB personnel from having to travel to speak with potential witnesses. Companies with the ability to outlast the NLRB will be in a much better position than they are today.
  2. The NLRB will increase its time targets for deciding whether unfair labor practice charges have merit in the hopes that, given more time, a case will settle. The Board’s target dates for closing a file have become uncomfortably quick. This quickness results in more Complaints being hastily issued not based on sound legal principal, but based on investigators having to decide what to do before the end of the month. I bet you didn’t know Board agents (and Regions) are graded on how quickly they move a case along.
  3. NLRB witnesses will be less prepared for trial because NLRB attorneys will not have been able to meet with witnesses as much as in the past. Anytime the other side is underprepared is good for the Company’s defense.
  4. The processing time of representation petitions will be lengthened from the “ambush” election targets. Sweet irony. The Board will have a taste of its own medicine and probably won’t like it.

Matt Austin 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 reach Matt by calling him at (614) 285-5342 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com. 

NLRB’s Budget Increases as Workload Decreases

By now, it is no secret that unionization rates in the United States have fallen each year for the past 30 years. This decrease in union membership results in a lessened need for the National Labor Relations Board, whose sole purpose is to govern labor and management relations. In fact, today the Board is presiding over fewer union elections, handling fewer cases, and issuing fewer decisions than it ever has in its nearly 80 year existence. The NLRB has even shuttered and combined Regional Offices because of inactivity. Specifically, since the height of unionization in 1980, union representation cases and unfair labor practice cases are down 58 percent and published decisions are down 85 percent. But, and this is a very large but, the Board’s budget is up 98 percent. Much of the increased budget goes toward the Board’s outreach program intended to educate people about the National Labor Relations Act, a law that has been around since 1935.