Republican Takes Over NLRB

Lone Republican elevated to chairman of nation's labor board

• January 26, 2017 2:30 pm


President Donald Trump elevated the National Labor Relation Board's lone Republican member to be chairman of the nation's top labor arbiter after eight years of Democratic control.

The agency announced on Thursday that Philip Miscimarra would serve as acting chairman of the board, which oversees labor disputes as well as union elections. Miscimarra will replace former union attorney Mark Gaston Pearce as board chairman.

"I remain committed to the task that Congress has assigned to the Board, which is to foster stability and to apply the National Labor Relations Act in an even-handed manner that serves the interests of employees, employers and unions throughout the country," he said in a release.

Miscimarra was appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2013 and has often served as a lone dissenting member. Despite taking over the chairman's role, he remains outnumbered 2-1 by Democrats. There are two vacancies on the 5-panel board, which Trump has yet to fill.

Miscimarra's tenure on the board has been defined by his blistering dissents on many of the board's most controversial decisions. When the board ruled that graduate students and teacher assistants had the right to unionize, for example, Miscimarra scolded the majority for ignoring the letter of the law in order to benefit unions.

"Congress never intended that the NLRA and collective bargaining would be the means by which students and their families might attempt to exercise control over such an extraordinary expense," he said. "Collective bargaining is likely to detract from the far more important goal of completing degree requirements in the allotted time, especially when one considers the potential consequences if students and/or universities resort to economic weapons against one another."

The Obama administration board tilted the scales of labor policies in favor of unions. It overturned longstanding decades of legal precedent along the way, including decisions that allowed for the formation of micro-unions, holding businesses liable for labor violations committed by subcontractors or franchisees, and changing dues withholding rules. The agency engaged in ambitious rulemaking, speeding up union election timetables and broadening disclosure requirements that employers must hand over to union officials.

Labor attorney Peter Schaumber, who served as an NLRB boardmember from 2002 to 2010, told the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump should make retaking the board a top priority given its outsized importance to the economic landscape. He urged Trump to use his recess appointment powers when the Senate breaks in February.

"For the last eight years the Board has been an appendage of organized labor changing decades of Board law solely to make union organizing easier," Schaumber said. "President Trump's desire to create jobs will be furthered by taking immediate control of the NLRB and getting that agency off the back of America's job creators."

Miscimarra's term expires in December.

Published under: NLRB