In a issued this afternoon, National Labor Relations Board Chairman Wilma B. Liebman and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon responded to the proposed cuts to the agency’s budget in H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (page 303, lines 17-19). We noted earlier this week that a proposed amendment to defund the agency entirely was defeated. However, H.R. 1 nevertheless would cut the Board’s budget by $50 million (from $283 million to $233 million). Some conservatives have argued that such cuts are justified by the Board’s declining caseload over the last decade. Indeed, Redstate.com provides several charts illustrating the correlation between the Board’s year over year caseload and budget. And, of course, the Board has faced criticism of late for what some perceive as an “activist agenda.”
Chairman Liebman and Acting General Counsel Solomon take a different view, noting the Board’s “reinvigoration” as it “returns to health after more than two years of vacancies.” Moreover, they state that the proposed cuts would be especially difficult because they would have to be taken with only seven months remaining in the fiscal year.
Nearly all of the agency's budget is spent on salaries and rents; there are no programs to eliminate or postpone. The only way to meet this extreme and immediate reduction would be to furlough all of the NLRB's 1,665 employees for 55 workdays, or nearly three months, between now and the end of September. The great majority of these employees work far from Washington D.C., in 51 local offices, where every NLRB case begins. The economic impact of this cut would be felt by families and communities in 33 states.
If enacted, the House proposal could force the NLRB to curtail all agency operations, including investigating alleged illegal practices by private sector employers and unions, conducting workplace elections, and helping to settle election-related disputes. Regulation of a broad range of conduct, such as unlawful lockouts of workers, termination of union organizers, refusals to bargain with unions selected by workers, unilateral changes to contract provisions covering such things as health insurance and pensions, unlawful strikes, picket line violence, and secondary boycotts, would be stalled if this proposal were adopted.
A vote on H.R. 1 may occur as early as today.