Senator Lamar Alexander: OMG LOL WTF NLRB

Not sure why the Republican Party of Shelby County would put this photo of Lamar Alexander on Flickr, but they did.A plan proposed by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander to change the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would “effectively cripple the agency” according to its opponents. Alexander, a champion of anti-union, right-wing extremism, is suggesting the board add a sixth member and have three members from each party. This, he comically insists, would “require both sides to find a middle ground.” 

As the Huffington Post‘s Dave Jamieson explains, given the gridlock in Washington such a plan would produce a perpetual stalemate:

A permanent, even split along partisan lines could ensure that the most contentious labor cases go unresolved for years, with conservative and liberal board members at loggerheads. The reform would be akin to establishing a 10-member Supreme Court, permanently comprised of five liberals and five conservatives.

Alexander’s bill also threatens the funding of the NLRB by demanding a 20 percent budget cut if the agency fails to issue rulings in 90 percent of its cases in the first two years.  It is difficult to even write about this with a serious tone. Alexander wants to render the board impotent, and then punish it for its impotence. 

The bill would also “rein in” the general counsel’s office, allowing any complaint brought to the council to be quickly appealed to a federal judge for review.  This type of change would alter the general council’s ability to bring forward charges in cases where it is suspected that illegal union busting had taken place.  

In a furious response to the proposed bill, CWA President Larry Cohen said:

This is the destruction of the NLRB, and they know it.  It is a disgrace. Lamar Alexander is a disgrace.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said he believed the proposed bill “intended to undermine and debilitate the agency, rather than improve its functioning.”  

“I would welcome the opportunity to work with any of my colleagues on legislation that would actually improve the Board’s ability to serve its important mission,” Harkin said, “but I fear that this legislation is a step in the wrong direction.”

At best, Alexander’s farcical legislation is a PR move to show that union bashing is alive and well before the midterm elections.  Fred Feinstein, a former NLRB general counsel during the Clinton administration, put it plainly in Jamieson’s article:

“Bottom line is NLRB ‘reform’ bills get introduced all the time and go nowhere,” Feinstein said. “There’s little doubt that in the current political environment that will be the fate of this one as well.”

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