Republicans Deep-Six the NLRB

Doing filibustering Senate Republicans one better, the one Republican member on the (currently) three-member National Labor Relations Board appears to have decided to bring the board to a screeching halt by refusing to vote and thus denying it a quorum.

In a letter made public yesterday, Republican Brian Hayes wrote fellow GOP-er John Kline, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, that he might well not participate in the Board’s scheduled November 30 vote on changing the rules for union certification elections. The proposed rule change essentially would shorten the period between the time that workers file for a union-representation election and the election itself from the current time period, which is as long as management can delay a vote (sometimes, for years) to roughly three or four weeks.

In his letter, Kline complained that he was not privy to some of the deliberations of the board (that is, of the two Democratic members) and thus might fail to show up for the scheduled vote. But in a long and devastating letter that board chairman Mark Pearce sent to Hayes yesterday, Pearce documented more than a dozen instances in which he and the board’s staff invited Hayes and his own staff to participate in all aspects of the rule-development process—hearings, data collection, even just trying to get Hayes to tell him which portions of the proposed rule he supported and which he opposed, and negotiating a compromise based on that discussion – only to have his entreaties either rejected or ignored by Hayes and his staff. In essence, Pearce told Hayes, you moved heaven and earth to ensure your exclusion from the process.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the five-member NLRB lacked a quorum and could not make any decisions based on a vote of just two members. Currently, the board has only three members, since Republican members of Congress, led by South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, have vowed to block any further Obama appointments and to stay in session over breaks to block any recess appointments. Board member Craig Becker’s term expires at the end of the year, reducing membership down to a powerless two. By refusing to participate in the November 30 session, Hayes would effectively move up by a month the Board’s quickly approaching period of impotence and block a rule change that unions support, and that fairness itself demands.