President Donald Trump has released a budget proposal reducing the National Labor Relations Board’s funding in fiscal year 2018 by nearly six percent. It also calls for significant staff reductions at a time when the agency’s caseload is projected to increase.

Under the proposal, the Board’s funding would be reduced by $16 million, from $274 million to $258 million, which would result in the lowest total operating budget for the Board since 2009. The reduced budget will require the Board to reduce staff from approximately 1,596 to 1,320 – well below the 15-year average of 1,700 full-time employees.

The NLRB had sought additional funding to “efficiently and effectively” process “comprehensive and complex cases,” such as “nationwide efforts to improve the wages … of retail and fast food workers,” “expanded use of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment” agreements, and the expanded use of technology and social media by employees to discuss employment outside the workplace, among other things.

The budget also includes an “administrative provision” prohibiting use of appropriations to adopt electronic voting in union representation elections. In the past, the NLRB had asked vendors to submit possible solutions on secure methods for electronic balloting, but had not acted on the subject.

What could the budget cut mean for your business? The budget has not been passed by Congress, and there likely will be significant congressional debate over funding of the NLRB (and other agencies, such as the Department of Labor, which also may face significant budget cuts). If the budget passes with significant cuts, expect the following:

  • The NLRB to ramp up the pressure on employers, unions, and employees to settle unfair labor practice charges early to avoid NLRB personnel having to travel to speak to potential witnesses.
  • The NLRB to loosen its time targets for deciding whether unfair labor practice charges have merit in the hopes that, given more time, a case can be settled.
  • The possibility of less-prepared NLRB witnesses in unfair labor practice trials because possibly overtaxed NLRB attorneys will not have been able to meet with witnesses as much as in the past.
  • Requests by the Board to administrative law judges to permit witness testimony by video to avoid having to pay witness travel costs.
  • The NLRB to struggle to process representation petitions quickly, which has been a key focus of the agency since the “quickie” election rules were implemented in April 2015.

Employers must adapt to these and other possible changes if the budget cut is approved. We will monitor the budgetary process and report on significant developments.

 

 

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Photo of Robert J. Guidotti Robert J. Guidotti

Robert J. Guidotti is an Associate in the White Plains office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey state courts.

Mr. Guidotti received his B.S. in Marketing, magna cum laude, from Fairfield University in 2008, where he was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society. Mr. Guidotti received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, where he served as a senior staff member with the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review, in 2011.

Photo of Howard M. Bloom Howard M. Bloom

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Mr. Bloom speaks frequently to employer groups on a wide range of labor and employment law topics. He also has written extensively on labor and employment law for a variety of publications, including New England Business magazine, The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. He also is editor of and a frequent contributor to the Jackson Lewis Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog.

While attending law school, he was the Executive Editor of The Advocate: the Suffolk University Law School Journal and President of the Student Bar Association.

Mr. Bloom is a diehard baseball fan. His first book, The Baseball Uncyclopedia: A Highly Opinionated Myth-Busting Guide to the Great American Game, was published in February 2006.

Photo of Philip B. Rosen Philip B. Rosen

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Mr. Rosen also leads the firm’s Labor Practice Group. He joined the Firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s recent initiatives on protected concerted activity and the proposed Notice Posting requirements.