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Federal bill, ‘Protecting American Jobs Act,’ would defang NLRB

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced the Senate version of a bill that would strip the NLRB of its power to prosecute and adjudicate labor disputes, arguably making it a federal agency with all bark and no bite. The Protecting American Jobs Act (S. 2084; H.R. 1893) would transfer the power to hear labor disputes to federal courts. The NLRB would retain the power to conduct investigations, but it would not be allowed to prosecute them.

Introduced on September 28 in the Senate, and in the House on April 17 by Representative Austin Scott (R-Ga.), the measure was also introduced in the last two Congresses but never made it out of committee.

Under the proposed Protecting American Jobs Act, the NLRB’s rulemaking authority under NLRA Sec. 6 would extend only to issues regarding the internal workings of the agency; the Board would not be authorized to promulgate any rules affecting the substantive rights of any person, employee, employer, or union.

The bill also would amend Sec. 3(d) by stripping the general counsel of authority to issue and prosecute complaints before the Board, and gut much of the Board’s investigatory and adjudicatory role in resolving unfair labor practice claims under Sec. 10. The Board would be empowered only to “investigate,” not “prevent,” an individual from committing an unfair labor practice and would be stripped of its “exclusive” powers to prevent unfair labor practices. The Board’s ability to petition courts for enforcement of its orders, seek injunctions, or hold hearings on jurisdictional strikes would be revoked as well.

“For far too long the NLRB has acted as judge, jury, and executioner, for labor disputes in this country,” Senator Lee said in a press release. “The havoc they have wrought by upsetting decades of established labor law has cost countless jobs. This common sense legislation would finally restore fairness and accountability to our nation’s labor laws.”