NLRB shake-up may cause reversals on key cases

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

You can expect some good news from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Reason: If the Senate confirms a new slate of Bush appointees to the NLRB, it will be the first time in 10 years that Republicans have controlled the five-member board. Republican members are typically pro-management.

Although more than 90 percent of NLRB decisions are unanimous, a number of cases tend to be decided along party lines, and these cases often involve legal policies with a big impact on employers.

The shift has already begun. In late July, the NLRB ruled that employers, when acquiring a unionized company, can challenge the union's status right away, without sitting through a waiting period. A previous ruling said new employers couldn't try to decertify a union until it gave the union "a reasonable period of time for bargaining" with the new employer. (MV Transportation, 337 NLRB, No. 129).

Other decisions that may be on the NLRB's hit list:

  • Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Ohio (331 NLRB No. 173), which gave nonunion employees the right to bring a co-worker to a meeting that may result in discipline.
  • Boston Medical Center (330 NLRB No. 152), which found medical interns, residents and fellows to be employees having the right to organize. A related ruling, New York University (332 NLRB No. 111), recognized graduate students as employees with the right to organize.
  • M.B. Sturgis (331 NLRB No. 173), which permits temporary employees mixed in with regular employees to join a collective bargaining unit if the two groups share a "community of interest."

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