The National Labor Relations Board is a federal agency designed to mediate disputes in all workplaces, but now the Democratic-led board is facing tough questions from House Republicans over what they say is bias toward unions. And those same Republicans are eyeing the NLRB's nearly $300 million budget looking to make cuts.
Chairman David Roe, R-Tenn., of the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee said the NLRB is of principle concern since having, "abandoned its traditional sense of fairness and neutrality and instead embraced a far-more activist approach."
Roe says this is evidenced by the pushing of unions on workplaces that have democratically chosen not to be part of a union.
The agency is made up of five members, all of which are chosen by the president. Currently there are three Democrats, one Republican and one vacancy. It's not surprising the members tend to share the same labor views of Mr. Obama. But the recess appointment of Craig Becker last March sparked particular controversy. Becker is a former top lawyer for both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU and has been dubbed "labor's secret weapon."
There are many issues at hand when it comes to the NLRB, but card-check is a biggie that has been at the forefront for awhile now. The agency recently threatened to sue a few states that were trying to protect workers' right to a secret ballot, making votes cast in union elections public.
The witnesses in today's hearings were all independent thinkers, mostly attorneys and a former general counsel for the board. A representative from the NLRB itself was not there, but in a statement to Bloomberg NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman said the board has always been viewed through a "partisan lens" but that they continue to operate "fairly and openly."
It won't be surprising to see more hearings on the board in the near future as Republicans gun for cuts across the budget board. More concrete answers on which agencies will get slashed should be answered in the next week or so.