Yesterday, President Obama announced his proposed budget which included increased funding for the National Labor Relations Board’s FY 2014 operations. At the same time, the House of Representatives pushed forward with legislation intended to rein in the Board in the wake of the DC Circuit’s Noel Canning decision.
In his FY 2014 budget, President Obama proposed increasing the NLRB’s budget by approximately $5 million, or 1.8 percent, over the budget authorized for FY 2013. If passed, the NLRB’s budget would increase to approximately $285 million in FY 2014.
The majority of the budget increase is intended to cover growth in compensation and benefits costs projected to be about $4 million. A large portion of that increase is likely due to the President’s proposed one percent increase in federal employees’ salaries. But it also reflects an increase from 1640 full-time equivalent employees in FY 2012 to 1680 in FY 2014. The remainder of the NLRB’s proposed budget would cover increases in costs related to equipment, supplies, materials, and other overhead items.
Another projection of note in the budget estimates that 21,700 unfair labor practice charges and 2,700 representation petitions will be filed with the Board in FY 21014. These numbers reflect an anticipation that filings will increase slightly from FY 2012 (the most recently completed fiscal year). In FY 2012, there were 21,629 unfair labor practice charges and 2,484 representation petitions filed. Interestingly, the filing in FY 2012 were down noticeably from FY 2011 during which 22,175 unfair labor practice charges and 2,634 representation petitions filed. Perhaps not surprisingly, the budget does not project this downward trend to continue.
While the President seeks an expansion of the Board’s operating budget, the House Rules Committee voted 7 to 3 yesterday to advance the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, H.R. 1120, one step closer to a floor vote. This bill was introduced in the House in response to the DC Circuit’s decision in Noel Canning, which found that the Board lacked a necessary quorum of members because recess appointments by President Obama were invalid. If passed, the Act would prohibit the NLRB from taking any action requiring a quorum until one of three events occurs: 1) the Senate confirms enough members to constitute a quorum, 2) the NLRB rules on the constitutionality of President Obama’s mid-session recess appointments, or 2) the 113th Congress adjourns thus ending the terms of the Board members whose appointments are in question.
Proponents of the legislation point to the fact that, due to the Noel Canning ruling, approximately 600 decisions issued by the Board are potentially invalid as will be any decisions issued by the current Board going forward. The bill purports to attempt to limit the confusion and uncertainty that has resulted from the Noel Canning decision.
Earlier this week, President Obama announced the renomination of Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and nomination of two Republican Members to the Board. Thus, the tug of war between the branches continues…