Thursday, December 13, 2007

What -- the NLRB Is Political?

Finkin .


House and Senate Subcommittees have announced witnesses for Thursday's hearing on recent NLRB decisions:

Panel I

  • Robert Battista, Chair, NLRB
  • Wilma Liebman, Member, NLRB

Panel II

  • Matt Finkin, Prof., Ill. (photo above)
  • Jon Hiatt, General Counsel, AFL-CIO
  • Feliza Ryland, Old Star Resort
  • Charles Cohen, Partner, Morgan Lewis

The quote of the day, courtesy Workplace Horizons, comes from Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY):

This hearing is a clear effort to politicize the judicial functions of NLRB, and to force that agency to bend to the will of the Democrat majority and its union supporters.  Make no mistake, union bosses are directing this assault on judicial independence, and the Majority is willing to comply with their goals at the expense of judicial integrity . . . .  Unfortunately, it is clear to me that this hearing is far more about staging partisan political theater than it is about any of the legitimate and responsible uses of Congressional hearing or oversight authority.

Which, of course, demonstrates a regrettable ignorance of how the Board has always worked, and was designed to work.  Of course, the posturing cuts both ways -- Democrats who will criticize Battista at the hearing for the Board's pro-management decisions know full well that President Bush appointed him not for his impartiality and "judicial independence," but because Bush knew he would be a reliable pro-management vote.  Board members are not judges -- they are political appointees.  Pro-union folks have an opportunity to change the Board's tilt, not at Thursday's hearing, but at November's election.

And if that happens, within a couple of years, the Democrats will be lauding an "impartial" Board and the Republicans will be decrying its politicization.


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No - frankly that will not quite wash. This Board is way, way beyond the normal political ping-pong - and Enzi knows it (I live in Wyoming and in my humble opinion Mr. Enzi never saw a labor law he liked). Republicans rightly sense that many observers are not buying into the "after all, this is a political model" argument and are going to exert themselves to effectuate some non-incremental change. Success will undoubtedly rise or fall on the general political winds - I don't dispute it. I do dispute that the recent doctrinal alterations fall within the realm of the usual tinkering. I left the Board about a year and a half ago precisely because I could tell the difference between subtle and legitimate differences of political emphasis and unabashed deregulation.

Posted by: Michael Duff | Dec 13, 2007 8:37:48 AM

A hearing is much milder than denying funds to carry out Board policies -- something that the Republican majorities repeatedly did in the 1990s concerning rulemaking on single-facility units. I hate the doublespeak.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Dec 13, 2007 1:37:29 PM

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