Recent NLRB decisions said to tilt in favor of unions

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is demonstrating it is willing to reopen workplace rulings previously decided in favor of employers as unions look to NLRB for help in their efforts to organize workers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Organizing is a critical issue for unions; the national rate of union membership dropped from 20.1 percent in 1983 to 12.3 percent in 2009. Although the NLRB can't overhaul labor law, it can rule on a case-by-case basis and set broader policies that could give unions more leverage with employers.

Republican gains during the recent midterm elections and a stalled Employee Free Choice Act have made new legislation to boost union organizing fairly unlikely. Earlier this year, union leaders pushed to get two new Democratic members on the board because they said the Republican-controlled board has hampered unions' efforts to organize workers. The board currently has three Democrats and one Republican.

One recent decision involved the board's three Democrats backing a union practice of holding large stationary banners at a secondary employer's business to protest contractor work being performed. It ruled that the banners weren't part of a picket line and didn't violate labor laws. The Democrats also have outvoted the Republican board member in other cases.

Employer groups are concerned about the board's recent actions, saying the board is giving unions an upper hand in organizing that could drive up labor costs.

Democratic board member Mark Pearce says the board was carrying out the law and trying to ensure workers have an "unencumbered choice" to unionize.

Date : 11/15/2010