The Nation describes how the NLRB has become anti-worker

Following up on an article published in April, “The NLRB has Gone Completely Rogue”, The Nation has published another summary of the NLRB’s ongoing attacks on worker rights, this one with a brief summary of the origins of the National Labor Relations Act and how it was gutted with the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The NLRB has now become so toxic to worker rights that, per the article, some worker groups are being forced to choose to not pursue NLRB cases at all, out of the rational fear that the board will take their case as yet another opportunity to gut worker protections.

Some extended extracts below.

- Bruce

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https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/trump-nlrb-labor/
Trump’s National Labor Relations Board Is Sabotaging Its Own Mission
The federal agency that’s supposed to protect union rights is instead championing the interests of bosses.

… A report by The Nation and Type Investigations—based on interviews with more than 25 labor advocates, attorneys, and current and former NLRB staff members—reveals that the federal agency that’s supposed to protect union rights is instead championing the interests of management.

The NLRB is tasked with administering union elections and processing unfair-labor-practice cases under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects “concerted activity,” the collective action that workers take to try to improve conditions on the job. Over the years, the NLRB’s rulings have tended to oscillate between pro-worker and pro-management decisions, depending on which party holds the White House.

But with management-side lawyers dominating the agency, which is run by a five-seat board and a general counsel, labor advocates say the NLRB is more stridently anti-labor than ever before and is sabotaging its own mission...

The shortcomings of the NLRB are to some degree baked into its structure… Established by the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, the NLRB was designed to maintain labor peace by absorbing the often violent conflicts into the legal arena. The act, a compromise between labor and management, forced companies to bargain with unions, but it also excluded whole categories of workers, such as farm laborers, and effectively limited collective bargaining to individual companies, not whole industries or sectors.

After World War II, conservative majorities in Congress gutted the National Labor Relations Act with the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which expanded employers’ power to suppress workplace organizing...

The NLRB’s board is currently dominated by three conservative Trump appointees, two with ties to law firms that have represented some of the country’s largest employers. Board chairman John Ring and board member William Emanuel are lawyers who defended companies such as Marriott International and Uber, respectively. A third member, Marvin Kaplan, previously worked on labor policy as a counsel for House Republicans...

Shortly after being sworn into office in November 2017, [NLRB general counsel Peter] Robb set about reversing the legacy of the previous board, which had incrementally expanded workers’ rights. In a series of sweeping decisions, the board scrapped rules instituted under Barack Obama...

One of the board’s most influential decisions dealt a severe blow to efforts to extend collective bargaining rights for contracted workers…

The board’s initial moves to nullify Obama-era provisions have been followed by rulings that limit workers’ rights far beyond those under previous Republican administrations. In August 2019 it reduced workers’ rights to protest on private property… It also excluded faculty at religious colleges and universities from its jurisdiction and allowed bosses to bar workers from organizing on company technology and equipment, including the use of e-mail…

“It’s breathtaking how many areas of the law, how many precedents they’ve managed to overturn,” said Wilma Liebman, a chair of the NLRB under Obama. “And they just kind of snap their fingers and do it...

The NLRB’s rightward shift under Trump has deterred some unions from taking cases to the agency. A current NLRB staff member, who requested anonymity to avoid retaliation, said she has observed unions opting to settle to avoid triggering an unfavorable ruling. Unions, she said, “are just less likely to turn to us because they…don’t want to create bad law.”

Several graduate student employee unions, including at Boston College, withdrew their cases in 2018 to prevent the board from overturning the Obama-era precedent that supported the collective bargaining rights of graduate workers at private institutions. “We pulled our petition to protect the rights of graduate student workers at private universities nation­wide,” said Sam Levinson, a Boston College graduate student worker, in an e-mail...

“A lot of people—the layman, the regular worker [or] union worker…they think that the board is there to protect them,” said Rob Atkinson, a former UPS driver. But under the current administration, “it’s obvious with their decisions that they’re no longer a friend of the working man and woman. They’re now a watchdog for the national Chamber of Commerce and Trump’s buddies.” …

[Amazonians United member Ted Miin] acknowledged that “the Trump administration has been rewriting the NLRB rules to favor bosses over workers.” But whatever form their resistance takes, he added, “as workers, we have to protect ourselves. No one’s coming to save us…not the NLRB, not politicians, not reporters. As workers, we have to get organized ourselves.”

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