In an article posted today, Susan J. McGolrick, a writer for the Daily Labor Report (subscription required), recounted some highlights from Chairman Wilma Liebman’s comments at the November 5th American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law’s annual meeting.  

Chairman Liebman said she felt “very privileged” to be chairman of the NLRB at a “historic time” when “we’re poised for changes” in Labor Law.  She commented on the United States Supreme Court’s decision to take a case challenging the NLRB’s authority to act with only two members, something the Board has been doing for the past 22 months.  Liebman noted that of the 538 Board rulings issued during that time, only 77 of them have been appealed to U.S. Circuit Courts challenging the Board’s authority to render a decision.  In terms of an anticipated decision of the United States Supreme Court, Liebman stated, “If we lose, we’ll have to decide what to do, but we’re hopeful we’ll win.”

Chairman Liebman argued that Congressional inaction has fostered “deep divisions” and “controversy” in labor law and has “facilitated” the NLRB’s “flip-flopping” and “policy oscillation.”  She stated that she believes it is better to have “periodic legislative change” to account for an ever-changing workforce, as opposed to relying on Board decisions to do the same thing.  Liebman declared that she is happy with the current debate over labor law issues in Congress, especially after “decades of silence” — a reference to the fact that Congress’ last major overhaul of the National Labor Relations Act, the nation’s principal labor law, took place in 1947.

Chairman Liebman indicated that once the NLRB has a full complement of five members, she wants to “give some thought to” something the NLRB has not done since the 1980s: rulemaking.  She said rulemaking may be especially helpful in representation cases.

Next week Chairman Liebman will be speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Labor Committee meeting.  We are members of this committee and two of this Blog’s authors will be there. 

Stay tuned for a first-hand report.