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NLRB & Workers at Odds Over Budget Cuts

By: Adam Merrill

Peter Robb, General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB, “Board,” or “Agency”), has proposed budget cuts that he contends are necessary to streamline some of the NLRB’s internal processes. Per Mr. Robb, despite a steady decline in NLRB case filings in recent years, the Agency has not updated its investigative processes since the 1980s.

Mr. Robb has proposed further changes to the NLRB, including combining NLRB field offices and shifting more decision-making authority to the NLRB’s Washington office. In addition, Mr. Robb is considering a series of changes to the way the NLRB processes unfair labor practice and union representation cases, including shortening investigation times, imposing strict deadlines on parties in cases, and emphasizing settlement.

These proposed budget cuts have caused consternation among some NLRB employees. In a letter to Senator Patty Murray of the Senate Appropriations Committee dated March 15, 2018, a group of nearly 400 Agency employees asked lawmakers to spare the NLRB from the proposed cuts to its annual budget. According to the employees, a proposed nine percent budget cut to the NLRB’s funding would limit the NLRB’s ability to investigate and adjudicate unfair labor practice charges and union representation cases.

In the letter, the employees requested that Congress “fight to preserve the NLRB’s funding at FY2017 levels adjusted for inflation,” and further stated that “[i]f the NLRB’s budget and staff are reduced, the Agency will not be able to effectively serve the public and fulfill its core mission to protect workplace democracy while maintaining industrial peace.” The employees, who represent about 25 percent of the NLRB’s nationwide workforce, further expressed concern that the proposed budget cut could “inevitably leave the public further in the dark about their rights under federal labor law.” The employees signed the letters in their personal capacities.

The NLRB is currently funded by a continuing resolution, which is set to expire March 23, 2018. Congress is widely expected to extend funding to the NLRB through the rest of the fiscal year