Wyatt Employment Law Report

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NLRB Issues Rule to Speed Up the Scheduling of NLRB Representation Elections

By Edwin S. Hopson

The National Labor Relations Board, by a vote of 3 to 2, has issued a final rule published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2014, amending the Board’s representation–case procedures to, among other things, reduce the time between the filing of a petition for representation election with the NLRB and the date of the NLRB election. The rule is to take effect on April 14, 2015.

The final rule was approved by Democrats Mark Gaston Pearce, Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer, with Republicans Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III dissenting.

The final rule:

■ Provides for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;

■ Adopts best practices and uniform procedures across all NLRB regional offices;

■ Requires that additional contact information for employees voting in the election (personal telephone numbers and email addresses) be included on voter lists to be turned over to the union, to the extent that information is available to the employer; and

■ Consolidates all election-related appeals to the Board into a single appeals process post-election.

The bottom line is, unions will be able to obtain much faster scheduling of elections, substantially reducing the time between the filing of the petition and the election during which the employer can campaign.

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Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Nomination of Sharon Block to be a Member of the NLRB

By  Edwin S. Hopson

On September 9, 2014, the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) conducted a hearing on the nomination of Sharon Block, a Democrat, to once again be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board. She was nominated to take the place of Nancy Schiffer, a Democrat, who apparently did not seek another term on the Board.

Schiffer’s term expires December 16, 2014. If Block is not confirmed, the NLRB after December 16, 2014, would effectively be deadlocked, with 2 Democrat Members, and 2 Republican Members.

The ranking member on the committee, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), raised objections to the nomination citing Block’s earlier service on the Board as a recess-appointee, which appointment was invalidated by a unanimous Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning et al., 573 U.S. ___ (2014), as well as Block’s refusal to step down when the D.C. Circuit found the recess appointments of Block and two other Board Members to be invalid.  Senator Alexander and other Republican Senators had called for her and the other recess-appointees to resign after the D.C. Circuit Court ruling.

Block was also asked if she had a conflict of interest in sitting on cases invalidated by the Supreme Court’s Noel Canning ruling which she had previously decided as a Board Member; Block indicated she would refer any such question, if confirmed, to the appropriate government ethics person.

The committee did not vote on Block’s nomination at the conclusion of the hearing, and Chairman Harkin left the record of the hearing open several days for any additional comments or questions.

Since the Democrats hold majorities on both the HELP committee and in the Senate at the present time, and in light of Senator Reid and the Democrat’s change in the filibuster rules, Block is likely to be confirmed.

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President Nominates Sharon Block to be a Member of the NLRB

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 14, 2014, the White House announced that President Obama was sending to the Senate the nomination of Democrat Sharon Block, currently working as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2019, replacing Democrat Nancy Jean Schiffer whose term expires in mid-December, 2014.

Block was previously recess-appointed to the NLRB by the President in January 2012. Block and two other recess appointees (including Richard Griffin) were found to have been invalidly appointed in the Noel Canning v. NLRB case by the Supreme Court last month.

In mid 2013, the President nominated new members to the NLRB who were confirmed, and Block and Griffin resigned from the Board. Griffin was later nominated and confirmed as General Counsel of the Board.

This action may forestall a deadlock on the Board should the Republicans win control of the Senate in November 2014, since, if Schiffer is not replaced, that would leave a 2 – 2 split at the Board of Republicans and Democrats.  Without a majority, the Democrats would be unable to decide important issues in cases or issue new regulations impacting labor-managment relations based on a pro-union agenda.

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NLRB May Be Expanding Definition of Joint Employer

By Edwin S. Hopson

On May 13, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (Members Hirozawa and Schiffer; Member Johnson, dissenting) announced that in Browning-Ferris Industries and Leadpoint Business Services, Case No. 32-RC-109684, a union representation election case, that it had granted review of the regional director’s decision in order to determine if the Board’s current joint employer standard should be modified. The current Board consists of three Democratic and two Republican Members. One can assume that the Democratic Members wish to loosen the standard so that union bargaining units can be expanded to include persons formerly considered independent contracts or employees of another employer.

The Board has invited the filing of briefs by not only the parties but also interested amici. The issues identified to be addressed are:

  1. Under the Board’s current joint-employer standard, as articulated in TLI, Inc., 271 NLRB 798 (1984), enfd. mem. 772 F.2d 894 (3d Cir. 1985), and Laerco Transportation, 269 NLRB 324 (1984), is Leadpoint Business Services the sole employer of the petitioned-for employees?
  2. Should the Board adhere to its existing joint-employer standard or adopt a new standard? What considerations should influence the Board’s decision in this regard?
  3. If the Board adopts a new standard for determining joint-employer status, what should that standard be? If it involves the application of a multifactor test, what factors should be examined? What should be the basis or rationale for such a standard?

The briefs may be filed on or before June 26, 2014.

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Full Complement of Five Members Assume Office at the NLRB

By Edwin S. Hopson

On August 12, 2013, the National Labor Relations Board announced that, for the first time since August 21, 2003, it has a full complement of five Senate-confirmed Members.  The last of four new members, Harry Johnson, III, was sworn in on August 12, 2013. NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce was also confirmed last month to an additional five year term on the NLRB.

Chairman, Mark Pearce has served as a Member of the NLRB since March 2010. His new term ends August 27, 2018.  Pearce is a Democrat.

New Member Nancy Schiffer’s term ends December 16, 2014.  She is also a Democrat.

New Member Kent Hirozawa’s term ends August 27, 2016.  He is a Democrat.

New Member Harry I. Johnson, III’s term ends August 27, 2015.  He is a Republican.

New Member Philip A. Miscimarra’s term ends December 16, 2017.  He also is a Republican.

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New NLRB Members Confirmed by the Senate

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 30, 2013, the Senate voted to confirm the President’s recent nominations of Democrats Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer to be Members of the National Labor Relations Board.  Hirozawa is currently Chief Counsel to NLRB Chairman Pearce.  Schiffer was most recently Associate General Counsel of the AFL-CIO.  The Senate also confirmed the reappointment of Chairman Mark Pearce, also a Democrat.

The vote for confirmation as to Hirozawa and Schiffer was 54 to 44.  Pearce was confirmed by a vote of 59 to 38.

The nominations of Republicans Harry Johnson and Phillip Miscimarra to the NLRB were confirmed by “voice vote.”

Thus, for the first time in about 10 years, there is a five member Board in place as confirmed by the Senate.

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NLRB Nominees Hirozawa and Schiffer Are Approved By the Senate HELP Committee

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 24, 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held an executive session to discuss and vote on the President’s recent nominations of Democrats Kent Yoshiho Hirozawa and NancyJeanSchiffer to be Members of the National Labor Relations Board.  Hirozawa is currently Chief Counsel to NLRB Chairman Pearce.  Schiffer was most recently Associate General Counsel of the AFL-CIO.

Ranking Member Alexander (R-TN) voiced objections to both nominees, opining that he doubted their impartiality.  He also noted that some outstanding written questions to the two nominees remained to be answered.   On motion of Committee Chairman Harkin (D-Iowa) to report the two nominations favorably out of committee, both nominations were approved by a vote of 13 to 9. 

Harkin also agreed that the record should remain open for the consideration of answers to the outstanding questions, and stated that he expected a vote on the nominations by the full Senate during the week of July 29.