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For decades, the board has required that both parties be represented before it will issue a major decision. The Obama board eliminated this wise practice that promoted full deliberation and dialogue by disingenuously denying the practice ever existed.
Seared in the minds of former board members is the spectacle of a highly unusual, last-minute public meeting called by Pearce to intimidate his Republican colleague into voting on a final “quickie” election rule the majority crafted but that their colleague by design would have little time to consider.The nation needs neutral decision-makers.
The board’s hyperpartisanship has hollowed out its legitimacy; its in-house militancy has made changes by a future Republican-controlled board beyond reasonable expectation.
It is time for Congress to consider transferring the board’s authority to a more neutral body, such as the federal judiciary. Lifetime appointments put federal judges beyond the reach of the demands of either stakeholder. And federal judges are not subject to the pressure felt by a board member who anticipates returning to law practice and may hesitate to antagonize a future client — much less an entire constituency such as the labor movement.
Transferring the board’s authority to the federal judiciary will give business confidence in its balanced application and the public the assurance that the protection of employee free choice on the question of unionization will be the central focus of this important American labor law.
Peter Schaumber is a former NLRB chairman.