Ronald Meisburg, General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued his annual Summary of Operations memo on October 29, 2008.  (The NLRB is the federal agency that enforces our country’s labor laws and conducts union elections.)  Mr. Meisburg’s memo is full of interesting news and developments on all facets of the NLRB’s operations.  To read the complete memo, click here.  If you want the Cliff’s Notes version, here you go:

  • Case intake is up: ULP cases are up 1.6%, from 22,147 in FY 2007 to 22,501 in FY 2008.   New representation cases are up 2.3% from 3,324 to 3,400. 
  • Elections are being held sooner:  the NLRB closed 83.5% of all representation cases within 100 days, exceeding its target of 80%.  93% of all initial union representation elections were conducted within 56 days of the filing of the petition, with a median of 39 days from filing.
  • ULPs are being investigated faster:  The Board closed 68.1 percent of all ULP cases within 120 days, meeting its target of 68%, and closed 75.2% of meritorious ULP cases within 365 days, meeting its target of 75%.
  • The NLRB is winning a lot:  Its Regional Offices won 90.8% of Board and Administrative Law Judge unfair labor practice decisions in whole or in part in FY 2008 (up 5% from 2007), and it recovered a total of $70,001,594 on behalf of employees as backpay or reimbursement of fees, dues, and fines.  It obtained reinstatement for 1,564 terminated employees.
  • The NLRB is using injunctions.  The Board authorized a total of 28 Section 10(j) injunction cases in FY 2008, as compared to 25  in FY 2007. The “success rate” (the percentage of 10(j) cases in which the NLRB achieved either a satisfactory settlement or substantial victory in litigation) was 84%.
  • The NLRB is more efficient:  It met all three of its primary goals, closing 83.50% of all
    representation cases within 100 days (target 80%), 68.10% of all unfair labor practice cases within 120 days (target 68%), and 75.22% of all meritorious unfair labor practice cases within 365 days (target 75%). 

What does this mean for employers?  The NLRB is more efficient and pushing cases to resolve more quickly, which may give employers less time to respond to petitions for election.  Also, the Board continues to be more aggressive in litigation and in seeking injunctions, which is rarely good news for employers.  In short, don’t take the NLRB lightly.