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Posts tagged ‘National Labor Relations Board’

Biden official would reinterpret labor law to deprive companies of established free speech rights


Reported by CHRIS PANDOLFO | April 12, 2022

Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/news/biden-official-would-reinterpret-labor-law-to-deprive-companies-of-established-free-speech-rights/

In a move designed to appease pro-union progressives and strike a blow against Amazon, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel will ask the board to strip companies of certain free speech rights, which would overturn more than seven decades of legal precedent.

In a memo sent last week, NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo declared her intention to ask the board to reconsider an employer’s right to hold “captive audience” meetings, mandatory meetings that companies sometimes use to argue against worker efforts to form a union. Progressives argue that requiring employees to listen to anti-union rhetoric while at work is a coercive and unlawful practice, while their opponents say companies have a recognized and statutorily protected First Amendment right to express their opposition to unionization.

Abruzzo’s memo makes the progressive argument. She wrote to NLRB field offices across the country on April 7 that captive audience meetings “inherently involve an unlawful threat that employees will be disciplined or suffer other reprisals if they exercise their protected right not to listen to such speech.” She claims that NLRB case precedent — settled law — was wrongly decided and that the board should “reconsider such precedent and find mandatory meetings of this sort unlawful.”

The specific case Abruzzo refers to is the NLRB’s 1948 decision in Babcock & Wilcox, where the Board concluded that companies could compel employees to attend anti-union meetings without violating the National Labor Relations Act. That decision was based on part of the law that says, “The expressing of any views, argument, or opinion, or the dissemination thereof … shall not constitute or be evidence of an unfair labor practice.”

Abruzzo argues the Board’s decision 74 years ago is “inconsistent” with labor law.

“This license to coerce is an anomaly in labor law, inconsistent with the Act’s protection of employees’ free choice. It is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of employers’ speech rights,” she wrote in the memo. “I believe that the NLRB case precedent, which has tolerated such meetings, is at odds with fundamental labor-law principles, our statutory language, and our Congressional mandate. Because of this, I plan to urge the Board to reconsider such precedent and find mandatory meetings of this sort unlawful.”

Progressive attacks on captive audience meetings have become something of a cause célèbre during the labor dispute at Amazon. As Amazon warehouse employees in Bessemer, Alabama, and New York City have tried to unionize, the company has held meetings to dissuade them. The New York Times reported in March that Amazon has held “hundred of meetings with workers to discourage them from supporting a union.”

Union supporters say they want to improve health and safety conditions at Amazon warehouses and receive better pay and treatment from management. They’ve accused Amazon of misrepresenting the benefits of unionization at these mandatory meetings and filed complaints with the NLRB accusing the company of trying to coerce workers against unionization.

Abruzzo’s memo, however, has been criticized for attempting to rewrite settled law on this question without input from Congress. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote in an editorial that the general counsel’s memo “is a thumb in the eye of Congress and the Constitution.”

“Companies can clearly require employees to attend meetings — say, to discuss productions goals or workplace morale. Banning any mention of unionization at a meeting, or its impact on company performance, is blatant speech regulation. Congress has been aware of the Babcock & Wilcox decision for decades and has never overruled it,” the Journal’s editorial board argued.

How About Some Good News for a Change? A Win for the Good Guys


Supreme Court limits president’s recess appointment power

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/26/supreme-court-limits-president-recess-appointment-power/

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March 5, 2014: The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington.Reuters

Trigger the Vote

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Click on image to see movie trailer and more

 

The Supreme Court delivered a blow Thursday to President Obama, ruling that he went too far in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

In a unanimous decision, (Did you get that? UNANIMOUS. – JB) the high court sided with Senate Republicans and limited the president’s power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments. It was the first-ever Supreme Court test involving the long-standing practice of presidents naming appointees when the Senate is on break.

In this case, Obama had argued that the Senate was on an extended holiday break when he filled slots at the NLRB in 2012. He argued the brief sessions it held every three days were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling the seats.

The justices rejected that argument, though, declaring the Senate was not actually in a formal recess when Obama acted during that three-day window.

Justice Stephen Breyer said in his majority opinion that a congressional break has to last at least 10 days to be considered a recess under the Constitution.

“Three days is too short a time to bring a recess within the scope of the Clause. Thus we conclude that the President lacked the power to make the recess appointments here at issue,” Breyer wrote.

At the same time, the court upheld the general authority of the president to make recess appointments.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, among those who criticized the president for unilaterally filling the NLRB slots, applauded the high court decision on Thursday.

“The president made an unprecedented power grab by placing political allies at a powerful federal agency while the Senate was meeting regularly and without even bothering to wait for its advice and consent,” he said in a statement. “A unanimous Supreme Court has rejected this brazen power-grab.” 

On a separate track, House Speaker John Boehner said a day earlier he plans to proceed with a lawsuit against the president over his alleged abuse of executive power.

Reacting to the Supreme Court decision on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is “deeply disappointed” in the ruling. He said that while the administration disagrees with the decision, it will honor it.

The issue of recess appointments receded in importance after the Senate’s Democratic majority changed the rules to make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of most Obama appointees.

But the ruling’s impact may be keenly felt by the White House next year if Republicans capture control of the Senate in the November election. The potential importance of the ruling lies in the Senate’s ability to block the confirmation of judges and the leaders of independent agencies like the NLRB. A federal law gives the president the power to appoint acting heads of Cabinet-level departments to keep the government running.

Still, the outcome could have been worse for the administration. The justices, by a 5-4 vote, rejected a sweeping lower court ruling against the administration that would have made it virtually impossible for any future president to make recess appointments.

The lower court held that the only recess recognized by the Constitution is the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress. It also said that only vacancies that arise in that recess could be filled. So the high court has left open the possibility that a president, with a compliant Congress, could make recess appointments in the future.

The case decided Thursday arose out of a dispute between the NLRB and a Pepsi-Cola distributor, Noel Canning. The NLRB had ruled against him in a labor dispute, but Canning argued that three of the five board members were improperly appointed.

A recess appointment can last no more than two years. Recess appointees who subsequently won Senate confirmation include Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William Brennan, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, two current NLRB members and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton is among recess appointees who left office because they could not win a Senate vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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