by Jeremy Leaming
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal agency charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), has been a prime target of the Right for decades, but as the agency has garnered the ability to carry out its duties, the right-wing campaign to smear the NLRB is reaching unprecedented levels.
In an extensive piece for Politico, Joseph Williams writes that the “traditional hostility toward the board seemed to reach a new level after the NLRB last month accused the world’s largest aerospace company” of running afoul of a provision of the NLRA that bans employers from retaliating against workers who strike. In the spring the NLRB lodged a complaint against Boeing Co., for moving production of its Dreamliner jet to South Carolina from its Puget Sound, Wash., facility. The board cited public statements from Boeing that it was doing so to avoid strikes by workers. The NLRA makes it illegal for corporations to retaliate against workers who engage in lawful activity, such as striking. The complaint is now before an administrative law judge.
The Right and Republicans in Congress have been howling over the complaint for months, dragging NLRB members before congressional hearings and tarring the board as a shill for unions. Others, however, have argued that the NLRB, hobbled during the George W. Bush administration, is finally back in business. (As Politico notes, the NLRB for two years went without enough members to form a quorum thereby effectively blocking the board’s ability to conduct its work.)
Republican politicians are still striving to constrain the NLRB’s ability to function. Politico notes that two of the agency’s board members’ terms will soon expire, and that Republicans have indicated they will not make it easy for the administration to fill the vacancies. If that happens, the boards “activities would grind to a halt, and the backlog of more than 200 cases, including some left over from the President W. Bush era, would languish.”
In a recent guest blog post, University of Richmond law school Professor Ann C. Hodges, explains why the criticism over the NLRB’s Boeing complaint is unfounded.