Unionized workers organize against National Labor Relations Board

Adam Jablonowski | Contributor

In a twist on typical union activity, employees of the National Labor Relations Board are accusing their bosses of treating them unfairly. NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon are facing resistance as they attempt to limit the amount of on-the-job time unionized employees can spend on union business, and on attending seminars and other meetings.

On Feb. 16, many NLRB employees attended a seminar at the Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations School in New York City, where NLRB Deputy General Counsel Celeste Mattina was speaking. Outside the meeting room, some in the NLRB Union passed out flyers accusing Pearce and Solomon of “Declar[ing] War on NLRB Employees” in an effort to “destroy their employees’ union.”

The NLRB’s leaders, the flyer claimed, “are demanding an 85% cut in the ‘official time’ that employees can use when they participate in grievance meetings and arbitration hearings.” it also said they want to “unilaterally deny employees the right to attend seminars such as today’s Cornell ILR seminar.”

An NLRB Union spokesman told The Daily Caller that organizers are “asking for the status quo” to be maintained. He explained that “we’re not under the statute that governs private employees — it’s a completely different statute.”

The programs included in the statute that controls the NLRB Union include flexible work hours under a “flexitime and compressed hours” policy. “It’s not like we don’t have any of that,” the spokesman said. “It’s that we want big improvements because we haven’t had a contract since 2002.”

The National Labor Relations Board is the agency tasked with supervising union elections and responding to complaints of unfair labor practices.

But Center for Union Facts managing director Justin Wilson told The Daily Caller that even the NLRB is finding it hard to satisfy its union.

“Unions have had it pretty good for a long period of time,” Wilson said. “NLRB is beginning to push back.”

“The NLRB understands a lot of the struggles that employers go through with respect to negotiating with unions, and this … is a reflection of that.”

The unionized segment of America’s private-sector workforce has shrunk in recent years, driving down dues collections and forcing organized labor to do more with less.

“Public sector unions, for the first time, are grappling with the fact that they don’t have unlimited amounts of money,” Wilson added, “and they’re being forced for the first time in a long time to make concessions to their employer — who is the taxpayer.”

The NLRB Union spokesman believes that these “are negotiable items left to the two parties.” He said limiting the amount of time employees could spend doing union business instead of performing their core duties would “cripple our ability to really effectively represent our members.”

The National Labor Relations Board itself declined to comment on what it referred to as an “internal dispute.”

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