House Education and the Workforce Committee Examines NLRB Recess Appointments

February 7, 2012

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN)  held a hearing entitled “The NLRB Recess Appointments: Implications for America's Workers and Employers.”

On January 4, 2012, President Obama announced three recess appointments to the NLRB. The president’s action has generated a great deal of public controversy because the Senate was not in recess. Individuals on both sides of the political divide have questioned the legality of the appointments, and raised concerns about the uncertainty attached to any future actions the board might take. As former Democrat board member Dennis Devaney noted in the Washington Times, “… Anything they do is going to be subject to being undone, because they didn’t have the authority to act.”

The president’s recess appointments to the NLRB have also raised new concerns about the agenda the board may pursue in the months ahead. In recent years, the board has taken a number of actions that undermine the rights of workers and employers, such as restricting access to secret ballot union elections and making it more difficult to challenge union representation. The current chairman of the board has also pledged to advance dramatic changes to union election procedures that will limit employer free speech and worker free choice.

The hearing provided members an opportunity to examine the legal uncertainty surrounding the recess appointments and the impact this uncertainty could have on employers and workers governed by the board’s actions.

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