What I am about to tell you about a government agency may sound crazy, but it’s all true. There’s a federal agency called the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It decides disputes between laborers and labor unions and employers, investigates and remedies unfair labor practices, and supervises unionization elections.
The NLRB has been around since 1935. While there are some partisan swings from one administration to the next, it generally tries to be bipartisan and follow established precedent. Seats on the 5-member board are technically appointed by the president, but 2 of those 5 spots go to members approved by the other party.
Or at least, that used to be the case. Critics charged that the Obama Administration’s NLRB was a crazily partisan body, trying to push a radically anti-employer agenda. There was some evidence for this, but the charges didn’t always get traction because they’re the sort of charges that get thrown around a lot these days.
But now we have proof and you’d be wise to sit down for this one. According to a new study, the Obama Administration’s NLRB overruled over 4,500 years of established legal precedents. No, that isn’t a typo.
As the report by the Workplace Policy Institute explains, “The Obama NLRB overturned a total 4,105 collective years of precedent in 91 cases and rejected an additional 454 collective years of case law by adopting comprehensive new election rules. Overall, the Obama Board upended 4,559 total years of established law.”
In one of the most infamous decisions, the NLRB hurt both mom-and-pop franchisees and franchise granting businesses by creating the “joint employer rule.” This held that employees of, let’s say, your local franchised McDonald’s might be employees of both mom-and-pop McDonald’s franchise owner AND McDonald’s.
That one decision has the potential to create tons of liability for franchise granters and open them up to charges of unfair labor practices and unionization elections from employees over which they have no control. It’s no wonder that the Trump Administration’s NLRB is seeking to overturn it, but there are many more awful rulings that may never get overturned.
And now, incredibly, the Trump Administration is considering reappointing the man behind much of the mess. His name is Mark Pearce. The former NLRB chairman’s term expires in August. The White House should inform Congressional Democrats that he will not be re-nominated to fill that partisan seat and propose they put forward another candidate.
As chairman of the NLRB, Pearce was the man most responsible for overturning, collectively, over four millennia of precedent. He is responsible for the joint employer fiasco. He pushed through a quickie union elections rule that will now have to be overturned. One of his decisions in a case about union dues was so bad that it was reviewed by a panel of actual federal judges who found that it was “largely unsupportable”; “contorted”; and “makes no sense.”
This is a man, in other words, who made the mess. He has a knee-jerk pro-union, anti-employer, anti-freedom bias. The NLRB needs to be better than that.
Pearce should never be trusted with a seat on the NLRB ever again, even if it’s to vote in the dissent. The business management community is practically unanimous in its opposition to him and the wrecking of thousands of years of precedent that he stands for.