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Sen. Alexander seeks to reform federal labor board

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U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. Photo by Paul Efird/News Sentinel U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. Photo by Paul Efird/News Sentinel

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced the NLRB Reform Act to turn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from an advocate to an umpire in labor disputes. Alexander introduced the legislation with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The NLRB Reform Act addresses three problems with the board—its partisanship, its activist general counsel, and its slow decision-making—with three solutions. The legislation will:

  • End partisan advocacy: To put an end to the partisanship, this legislation would increase the number of board members from five to six, requiring an even split between Republicans and Democrats. All decisions would require the agreement of four board members, resulting in consensus from both sides. Over time, the president would nominate a Republican and a Democrat at the same time to fill those seats.
  • Rein in the general counsel: The board's most recent general counsels have stretched federal labor law to its limits—and sometimes beyond. With this bill, parties will have 30 days to seek review of a general counsel's complaint in federal district court and will have new discovery rights allowing them to obtain memorandum and other documents relevant to the complaint within 10 days.
  • Encourage timely decision-making:  The NLRB is taking too long to resolve cases. Under the NLRB Reform Act, either party in a case before the board may appeal to a Federal Court of Appeals if the board fails to reach a decision in their case within one year. To further incentivize speedy decision-making, funding for the entire NLRB would be reduced by 20 percent if the board is not able to decide 90 percent of its cases within one year over the first two-year period post-reform.  

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