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Northwest OH Legal Blog

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The NLRB in 2013

After years of Senate confirmation battles and operating the National Labor Relations Board with less than its full complement of five board members, 2013 finally saw the Board fully staffed with the appointment of Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and members Nancy J. Shiffer and Kent Y. Hirozawa.  With these appointments, decisions issued by the NLRB should no longer be challenged in the courts because of questionable quorums and recess appointments.  The senate also confirmed President Obama’s choice for NLRB General Council, Richard F. Griffin, Jr..  With the NLRB now “running on all cylinders,” as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka put it, the board has begun to make strides in fulfilling the promise of the National Labor Relations Act.

Under the direction of Mr. Griffin, the NLRB recently filed several unfair labor practice charges against Wal-Mart for actions and statements they made about some of their employees who participated in Black Friday protests.  The Board also ruled in favor of the UFCW’s practice of giving gift cards to protestors, finding it was not, as Wal-Mart claimed, coercive behavior.

In addition to these developments, the Board has promised to give further guidance on so-called “micro-unions,” a development that allows individual departments to unionize even if the larger shop wishes to remain non-union.  These guidelines could help unions make inroads into more workplaces and further effectuate the purpose of the Act.

While 2013 ended on a positive note for the NLRB, with a fully staffed Board and strong leadership from its new General Counsel 2014 promises to offer even greater strides in returning workplace balance from the hands of corporate American back to the workers.


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