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U.S. Supreme Court May Void Decisions Made by Two-Member Labor Relations Board

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  • U.S. Supreme Court May Void Decisions Made by Two-Member Labor Relations Board

    Hundreds of decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could be nullified if the U.S. Supreme Court decides the make-up of the board – currently only two active members on a board designed for five members – is in violation of the law, according to Lawyers USA.

    The NLRB is a federal agency created by Congress in 1935. The primary purpose of the board is to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing disputes between unions and employers, including railroad worker unions like the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. The original make-up of the board is five members who are nominated to five-year terms by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

    However, partisan political gridlock has prevented a full board from convening since three member’s terms have expired and replacements have not been confirmed by the Senate. This has resulted in the board operating with two members - NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman, a Democrat, and fellow board member Peter Schaumber, a Republican. They have issued about 586 decisions as a two-member board, according to kansascity.com.

    You have to question the validity of a board consisting of only two people. Proponents of the board argue that the two-member board has no choice but levy decisions since they can’t help delayed confirmation process on Capitol Hill.

    This argument is rather weak considering the law is explicit in this instance – a full board is needed to hand down decisions. Congress established the Board with certain requirements to ensure that a fully operational authority handled important labor disputes involving wages, hours, benefits, and anything related to working conditions for unionized workers. Although the statute does allow for a two-member quorum of a group designated by the Board to adjudicate, the Act never intended to allow for a two-member Board to make decisions on all cases, according to the Seton Hall Circuit Review.

    But this is the question before the Supreme Court. They will decide whether or not the Board can, and should, continue in its current capacity. If they decide the decisions of the two-member board should be voided, a D.C. Circuit Court proposed a good way to reduce the inconvenience and potential log jam that could occur from the nullified cases - new members of the Board should review the cases decided by the two-member Board in order to validate them. This would take time, but may be better than re-litigating each case again.

    About Us: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton FELA/Railroad Injury Attorneys have authored hundreds of railroad and FELA articles on our main website, and have over 100 years combined injury law experience. Firm attorneys included among “The Best Lawyers in America” 2010 Edition and the law firm has the highest rating (AV) granted by Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating service.
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