Enforcement of Key Labor Law Grinds to a Halt

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The landmark National Labor Relations Act, the New Deal-era law that protects the right to unionize and collectively bargain with employers, has become unenforceable by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) due to a recent court decision.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on January 25 that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority by making recess appointments to the NLRB last year. The ruling meant that all actions by the NLRB since January 2012 were unenforceable—giving businesses legal grounds to challenge them in court.


The number of decisions handed down by the NLRB over the past year was nearly 800, and not only are all of these subject to challenge, but the board effectively can’t impose any new rulings on businesses.


“Compliance with NLRB enforcement is voluntary for employers at this point,” former NLRB Chairman William B. Gould IV told In These Times.


More than 60 employers have filed challenges in the courts since the January 25 ruling (Noel Canning v. NLRB), with more on the way.


Meanwhile, the NLRB has appealed the Canning decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could take up to a year to decide whether to hear the case.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Labor Law Loses Its Watchdog (by Bruce Vail, In These Times)

Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board (U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia) (pdf)

Republican-Appointed Judges Reject Obama Recess Appointments to National Labor Relations Board because of “the” instead of “a” (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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