Sweeping federal court action clouds post-2011 NLRB decisions

Sources: CP staff; Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), Washington, D.C.; U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

A federal appellate court ruling in favor of an employer/respondent’s petition for review of a National Labor Relations Board order could nullify decisions Board Members have issued since January 2012. Respondent Noel Canning, a Yakima, Wash., Pepsi product bottler, challenged a) the existence of a quorum the Board required on an unfair labor practice complaint in which Teamsters Local 760 prevailed; and, b) the validity of the Board’s order based on the presence of three Members President Obama appointed during an Administration-claimed Senate recess.

“The president’s decision to bypass the U.S. Senate and appoint pro-union activist members to the NLRB was a political, partisan act that had to be challenged,” said Geoff Burr, vice president of Federal Affairs for ABC, which joined other national business groups supporting the Noel Canning petition before the appellate court. “We are thankful the court ruled on the side of the Constitution.

“Under the president’s administration, the NLRB has been transformed from a neutral arbiter of labor law disputes into an activist organization whose only goal is to promote the special interests of politically powerful unions. [The] ruling will invalidate decisions unlawfully made over the past year by the NLRB and allow them to be heard by an unbiased panel.”

In a January 25 statement, NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce noted, “The Board respectfully disagrees with today’s decision and believes that the President’s position in the matter will ultimately be upheld. It should be noted that this order applies to only one specific case, Noel Canning, and that similar questions have been raised in more than a dozen cases pending in other courts of appeals.”