The single Republican on the National Labor Relations Board has threatened to quit, according to its chairman, in a move aimed at blocking action by a panel that business groups say is too pro-union.
Brian Hayes said he may resign to deny the NLRB the quorum needed to make decisions before a vote scheduled for next week on rules to speed union elections, according to a letter from the board’s Democratic chairman, Mark Pearce.
“You indicated that, if the board proceeded with consideration of the matter, you would consider resigning your position,” Pearce said in a letter to Hayes on Nov. 22, recounting an October discussion. NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said Hayes wasn’t immediately available to comment.
The labor board, which runs union elections and resolves disputes between unions and management, proposed in June streamlining the schedule for elections to hold a vote within 21 days of a worker request to form a union.
The NLRB said its proposal to speed elections is aimed at removing “unnecessary barriers” to unionization. The median time to complete an election is 38 days, according to the agency. Business groups in Washington, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say employers would have too little time to make their case to workers.
The NLRB scheduled a Nov. 30 meeting to act on a portion of the proposal.
The board has two vacancies, and the term of Democrat Craig Becker, a former lawyer for the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union, will expire next month. That may bar the board from action because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that a two-member board can’t issue rulings.
President Barack Obama would have difficulty winning confirmation for new appointees in the Senate, where Republicans can block action and can also invoke procedures to prevent him from making appointments while Congress is away. Unless the board acts this year, its dwindling membership may doom the rules for shorter elections, a priority for unions that are financial supporters of Obama and Democratic lawmakers.
Republican presidential candidates, led by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, have targeted the labor board in debates and campaign rallies as an example of job- killing regulation by the federal government.
The Republican-led House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on legislation to block quicker union elections. Even if the bill passes the House, it would have to pass the Democratic-led Senate and be signed by Obama in order to stop the labor board’s effort.
The bill coming before the House is H.R. 3094.
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