What Is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)?

What does the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) do?

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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a federal government agency, founded by Congress in 1935. The primary responsibility of the NLRB is to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The NLRB takes action to safeguard employees' right to organize and to decide whether to have unions serve as their bargaining representative with their employer. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices that are committed by private sector employers and unions.

The NLRB  protects the rights of most private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.

The NLRB defends the rights of employers in a supposedly fair and legal manner. However, since the members of the board are political appointees, many observers believe that the interpretation of the NLRA reflects on the political party in power at the time of the decision.

This is, of course, wrong, but recent decisions that have come under a lot of fire from employers, lawyers, and Congress are linked from this piece.

National Labor Relations Act

The Act is the main law governing relationships between unions and private-sector employers. The Act guarantees the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers.

The Act ensures that non-union employees and employees who join, support or assist unions may not be discriminated against by their employers or by their unions. 

The NLRB also protects non-union groups of two or more employees who attempt, without a union, to bargain with their employer over wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Employees who are not union members are generally considered at will employees. Employers may terminate, demote, transfer, or promote these employees without oversight. Employees who believe that they were discriminated against or subjected to unfair labor practices should seek counsel. 

Filing Charges with the NLRB

The NLRB also investigates situations in which employees, union representatives, and employers, who believe that their rights under the National Labor Relations Act have been violated, may file charges of unfair labor practices at their nearest NLRB regional office. 

Following the investigation, the Board issues its decision. The majority of parties voluntarily comply with the decisions of the Board. But, if they do not, the Agency's General Counsel must seek enforcement in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Parties to cases also may seek review of unfavorable decisions in the Federal courts. 

Learn more about the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by visiting their website, and see the e-filing forms and processes to follow. You can also look at cases and decisions the Board has made.

In one NLRB decision, in 2001, the NLRB ruled that at the Crown Cork & Seal plant, the employee teams could not be classified as labor organizations since they had supervisory authority to plan and implement their decisions.

(At the Crown Cork & Seal plant, employees on teams made decisions about production, safety and other workplace issues. An earlier, NLRB regional field office had found in favor of a complaining employee. A court decision had found in favor of the company and the NLRB supported this finding.)

NLRB in Recent Years

In the past few years, the NLRB has become less inclusive of the rights of employers and more inclusive of the rights of employees and union members. So, the number of decisions that are questionable in terms of the employers' rights to hire and fire employees have been infringed upon as observed by the legal community.

Also Known As NLRB, Labor Relations Boards