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The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s is jointly responsible for workers at its franchisees’ restaurants, a decision that if upheld would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.

Richard F. Griffin Jr., the labor board’s general counsel, said that of the 181 unfair labor practice complaints filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees over the last 20 months, he found that 43 had merit on such grounds as illegally firing or threatening workers for pro-union activities.

In those cases, Mr. Griffin said he would include McDonald’s as a joint employer, a classification that could hold the fast-food company responsible for actions taken at thousands of its restaurants. Roughly 90 percent of the chain’s restaurants in the United States are franchise operations.

McDonald’s said it would contest the decision, warning that the ruling would affect not only the fast-food industry but businesses like dry cleaners and car dealerships.

The N.L.R.B. ruling is wrong, according to a statement by Heather Smedstad, a senior vice president for McDonald’s, because the company does not determine or co-determine decisions on hiring, wages or other employment matters. “McDonald’s also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small business, and goes against decades of established law,” Ms. Smedstad said.

Throughout the debate to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, alongside the efforts by fast-food workers and labor advocates to pressure McDonald’s and other restaurant chains to adopt a $15 wage floor, the companies have often said that they don’t set employee wages, franchise owners do. That defense would be weakened considerably by the workers’ push to have them declared joint employers.

In a statement, Angelo Amador, vice president of labor and work force policy for the National Restaurant Association, called the ruling another example of the Obama administration’s anti-small-business agenda. The ruling, he said, “overturns 30 years of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States, erodes the proven franchisor/franchisee relationship, and jeopardizes the success of 90 percent of America’s restaurants who are independent operators or franchisees.”

If upheld, the general counsel’s move would give the fast-food workers and the main labor group backing them, the Service Employees International Union, more leverage in their effort to unionize McDonald’s restaurants and to increase hourly wages. The average fast-food wage is about $8.90 an hour.

Mr. Griffin said in a letter that of the 181 cases filed against McDonald’s and its franchisees since November 2012 – the month the first one-day strike was conducted against McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants — he dismissed 74. Of the 107 other cases, he said he was still investigating 64, while his office found 43 had merit.

The Associated Press first reported the ruling on Tuesday. Ms. Smedstad told The A.P. that the labor board had notified the company of the ruling on Tuesday.


David French, senior vice president with the National Retail Federation, called the decision “outrageous.” “It is just further evidence that the N.L.R.B. has lost all credibility as a government agency established to protect workers and is now just a government agency that serves as an adjunct for organized labor, which has fought for this decision for a number of years as a means to more easily unionize entire companies and industries,” he said.

The fast-food workers movement has argued that McDonald’s should be considered a joint employer because it owns many of the franchisees’ restaurant buildings and requires franchises to follow strict rules on food, cleanliness and hiring. McDonald’s has even warned some franchisees that they were paying their workers too much.

The cases were brought on behalf of workers who assert, among other things, that they were wrongfully fired, threatened or suspended because of their campaign for a $15 a wage and to unionize McDonald’s.

“McDonald’s can try to hide behind its franchisees, but today’s determination by the N.L.R.B. shows there’s no two ways about it: The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,” said Micah Wissinger, a lawyer in New York who filed some of the cases against McDonald’s. “The reality is that McDonald’s requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there’s no doubt who’s really in charge.”

The next stages for the cases could involve Mr. Griffin’s trying to seek a settlement. But the cases more likely will be argued before an administrative law judge.

This is a major victory for workers, and a sad day for lobbyists such as the National Restaurant Association. 

h/t: Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times



On Friday in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University football players voted on the question of whether or not to form a union, which would be the first of its kind for collegiate athletics. While this vote is significant, it is but one step in what promises to be a lengthy and exhausting process for all parties.

Due to Northwestern University’s predictable appeal of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to classify college athletes as employees, the ballots will be automatically impounded for an indefinite period of time. This time frame will be determined by the length of the appeals process, which is likely to be substantial.

The months in between the historic NLRB ruling and players vote have been wrought with endless lobbying and politicking from both sides of the argument. Obviously, the NCAA has publicly stated its opinion on the subject and openly called for a vote against the measure. However, there is also significant pressure coming internally in the Northwestern locker room, where Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald has advised the players to vote against unionization.

The union movement was first broached in January by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, and at the time it appeared that most players would support the effort. However, in the weeks leading up to the vote, a number of players indicated there was some confusion regarding the specifics of the union agenda.

”When the union talk initially started, it wasn’t very clear what was going on,” said Northwestern safety Davion Fleming. ”I think they didn’t understand the implications. They just want this to be over – and to focus on football.”

This comment echoes the sentiments of other players, including Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian, who is the favorite to take over for Colter as the Wildcats’ starter. Siemian has publicly stated his intent to vote against the formation of a union, and suggested there were other players who shared his opinion. These comments have cast some doubt on the outcome of the vote, which appeared to be a foregone conclusion a few months ago. While Fleming and Siemian have taken exception to certain elements of unionization, they are pleased that the movement has opened the door to public debate on the subject of rights and conditions for college athletes.

Over the past few months, some observers have introduced the possibility of Northwestern players being influenced by the NCAA or the university. While players like Fleming and Siemian claim there was some initial confusion regarding the issues surrounding unionization, Ramogi Huma, a former college football player and current president of the College Athletes Players Association, has suggested other factors are at play.

Huma, who has been integral to the unionization movement, advocating for it along with Colter, claims Northwestern has used a misinformation campaign, both privately and publicly, to distort facts regarding the possible consequences of unionization. This includes a 21-page document sent to the players that detailed issues that could potentially arise if a union was formed, a ploy that Huma has questioned:

”They’re looking at anything and everything to invoke fear in the players. We feel like some of the tactics are scare tactics.”

The NCAA, along with its member institutions, has glaring ideological and financial motivations against the very concept of organized labor as it pertains to college athletics. The document provided to the players, and subsequently obtained by the media, is practically littered with provocative language in reference to possible scenarios involving unionization.

One statement reads in part, ”the tension created in such a situation would be unprecedented and not in anyone’s best interest.” Another states, ”there is no question but that the presence of a union would add tension in terms of creating an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ feeling between the players it would represent and those it would not.”

While these predictions may very well come true if a union is eventually formed, the language seems to speak in absolutes and appears to be designed to steer Northwestern players away from the union movement. For its part, the university has stated its handling of the situation has been beyond reproach and completely by the book:

”I would say strongly that Northwestern has conducted an election campaign … according to the procedures and the rules of the NLRB,” explained Vice President for University Relations Alan K. Cubbage.

A total of 76 players were eligible to participate in Friday’s vote, and while the results will be enlightening, they will only serve to shed light on the inner workings of one school. The decision that will ultimately shape the direction and discussion of unionization for college athletes going forward is the NLRB ruling on the Northwestern appeal. Unfortunately, it will take some time to render this decision, and until then, we can only speculate as to the results of the player’s vote and the future of the unionization movement in general. However, it does seem clear that profound change is coming to the NCAA, in one form or another.

h/t: Chad Quates at Politicus Sports


Hopefully the Northwestern players are successful at getting a union formed

h/t: Phil Williams at

Leaked documents obtained by Nashville TV station NewsChannel 5 WVTF reveal communications between the employees of two Tennessee Republicans—Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam—and a network of prominent anti-union professionals during the United Auto Workers’ union drive at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga earlier this year.

Sen. Corker and Gov. Haslam have been blamed by the union for contributing to the drive’s defeat by making public statements against the UAW. Prior to the election, Corker claimed that the plant would add an additional SUV assembly line if workers voted against the union, while Haslam implied that businesses had told him that they might not relocate to Tennessee if workers at Volkswagen voted to join the UAW.

There was no direct evidence, however, that these politicians were coordinating with the various anti-union forces that had gathered in Chattanooga to oppose the drive, although In These Times reported in November 2013 that Washington, D.C.-based anti-union campaigner Matt Patterson had bragged about developing anti-UAW messaging with “politician [sic] and businessmen” in Tennessee. The documents by NewsChannel 5 provide the first direct proof of such coordination. In addition, In These Times magazine has obtained documents and conducted interviews with a top anti-union consultant that shed new light on the origins of the anti-union videos referenced in the communications.

Chain of evidence

The documents released by NewsChannel 5 show that, just before the union election, Sen. Corker’s chief of staff and one of Gov. Haslam’s cabinet members were part of an email chain with both Chattanooga-based and national anti-union consultants about efforts to draw attention to three videos produced to fight the UAW at Volkswagen. The videos feature testimonials from workers at previous UAW plants claiming that the UAW destroyed Detroit and led to the closure of a former Volkswagen auto plant in Westmoreland County, Pa. (Full disclosure: This author’s mother worked at the Westmoreland County Volkswagen plant until it closed, and was a member of UAW.)

In a February 10 email with the subject line “Video views so far today,” Peter List, the CEO of the anti-union labor-relations consultant group Kulture LLC and editor and chief blogger of, boasted of the videos’ web traffic. The email was addressed to, among others, Sen. Corker’s chief of staff, Tony Womack; Maury Nicely, the head of the local Chattanooga anti-union group Southern Momentum; Charleston, S.C.-based anti-union consultant Jim Gray; and former Volkswagen plant manager Don Jackson, whose role in campaigning against the UAW has been previously detailed by In These Times. Also on the chain was Tim Spires, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers’ Association, which promoted anti-UAW events, and Ron Harr, president and  CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

The next day, Corker’s Chief of Staff Todd Womack forwarded List’s email to Tennessee economic and community development commissioner Bill Hagerty—a member of Gov. Haslam’s cabinet—and Hagerty’s chief of staff Will Alexander (who is the son of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander) with a message saying “If you would, please don’t forward this version, but this is the video I mentioned. Thanks much, Todd.”

Womack did not return request for comment about what level of coordination Senator Corker’s office had with anti-union consultants. Likewise, Peter List refused to answer questions about why he was emailing Senator Corker’s staff, stating in an email to In These Times, “It seems you’ve fallen into the trap that people actually pay attention to what politicians say.”

The other major revelation of the NewsChannel 5 investigation is a document titled “Project Trinity,” dated August 23, 2013 and labeled “confidential,” in which Haslam offered $300 million in incentives to Volkswagen if the company would bring a new SUV line to its Chattanooga plant and add 1,350 jobs. At the time, the UAW and Volkswagen were discussing the process by which the company would recognize the union and how the UAW would interact with a potential German-style works council being at the plant. In the “Project Trinity” document, Haslam’s office informed Volkswagen that the “the incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.”

In remarks in Chattanooga today, Haslam denied that he was attempting to use the incentives to influence the union vote. However, the emails show that top Haslam staffers conducted an extensive legal analysis of how quickly the union election could occur at Volkswagen once either the union or the employer filed for it. (Unions tend to advocate quick elections, since they believe that delaying organizing drives deflates their momentum.) In a February 4 letter to the Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations CEO Frank Fisher, Haslam also voiced concerns about union organizers being granted access to the plant.

Who’s behind the videos?

Through an interview with prominent “union avoidance” consultant Jim Gray and a leaked document from an anti-union consulting group, In These Times has learned the source of the videos discussed in the email chain. Gray, who was sent the email, tells In These Times that he played a large role in developing the videos, in conjunction with Southern Momentum, whose head, Maury Nicely, was also on the email chain. Gray says that he helped write the script for the video and “helped point towards” Projections Inc., a prominent anti-union consulting group, as a possible producer.

A document from Projections’ website titled “Case Study: Volkswagen and the UAW” that is available to the site’s “insider members” reads, “On February 3, the call came in to Projections’ Union Proof Team from the Southern Momentum non-profit group. … When Volkswagen asked for a fast vote on February 3, the Union proof Team immediately went to Chattanooga to begin drafting a communications strategy. Scripts were written, testimonials shot, and in plant footage was recorded.”

Projections states that it in a matter of four days, it was able to produce three “highly professional” videos against the UAW and even traveled to Westmoreland County, Pa., to film a former Volkswagen worker who claimed that the UAW forced the plant there to close in 1988.

The videos were then made public at meetings organized by Southern Momentum on February 8 and 9, just a few days before the February 12-14 union election, and uploaded to, a website run by anti-UAW workers at the plant.

The Case Study document quotes Projections CEO Walter Orechwa as saying, “The truth is, regardless of the timeframe, powerful employee communication is always key to remaining union-free.”

The legal ramifications

After the union defeat, the UAW filed a case with the National Labor Relations Board charging that outside political interference by Corker and the state GOP leadership prevented workers from receiving a fair election. On Tuesday, the UAW used the NewsChannel 5 report to file a supplemental brief with the NLRB, alleging that the leaked documents provide even greater evidence that government officials coordinated their efforts to hinder the union drive. “Doubtless there is more evidence of such coordination in addition to this particular leaked email chain, given the tone of familiarity among the email recipients,” wrote the UAW in the brief.

Also, the UAW cited the new connection in the email chain between the anti-union group Southern Momentum and government officials to challenge the NLRB’s decision to grant Southern Momentum “intervenor status” to participate in the NLRB hearings. In an unusual move in March, Southern Momentum petitioned for standing in the case, arguing that it was a group representing anti-union workers involved in the dispute. The NLRB agreed, which will allow Southern Momentum to bring in its own legal team to make arguments. Southern Momentum has deep pockets: Previously, In These Times quoted No 2 UAW anti-union VW worker committee activist Mike Burton as saying “not one of us [workers] raised a penny” of the $100,000 raised by Southern Momentum to fight against the UAW drive. The UAW however, argues that the email chain provides further evidence that Southern Momentum is tied to outside special interests rather than workers and that its intervenor status should be revoked.

According to labor lawyer Moshe Marvit, a fellow at the Century Foundation, the case has far-reaching legal implications, since outside groups with dark money sources are rarely allowed to fight unions in NLRB cases.

However, Marvit notes that “there is an irony to the Board’s granting intervenor status to outside groups” because “the hearing is only necessary because outside groups became involved in the election in an improper way. Now, the Board is affirming that these groups have a legal interest in the proceedings, and is thereby affirming their position as parties.”

The NLRB trial is set for April 21 in Chattanooga, Tenn. While it’s unclear whether the NLRB will be swayed by the new evidence to call for a do-over election at Volkswagen, to one local activist these documents represent something startling.

"When a billionaire governor, a millionaire senator, and the local Chamber of Commerce all unite to kill jobs in reaction to the mere possibility of one union local being organized at one factory in one city in the state of Tennessee, the full extent of the corrupting influence of the business community in our state government becomes clearly visible,” says Chris Brooks, an activist with the pro-UAW community group Chattanooga for Workers.  “What chance do workers have to organize a union when they are pitted against our state’s most powerful politicians who coordinate their attacks in secret with a shadowy corporate cartel composed of everyone from the local Chamber to out-of-state anti-union consultants?"

h/t: Mike Elk at In These Times


Senate leaders struck a tentative deal in the 11th hour to confirm seven presidential nominees to executive positions without the use of the nuclear option.

In short, Republicans would confirm nominees to all seven positions, a big concession for the GOP. But in a concession for Democrats, they would replace two recess-appointed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board — Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, pictured below — with new nominees under the following condition: Republicans pledge to confirm any two replacements by President Obama to the board by Aug. 27.

The nominees who would be confirmed in the deal are Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy for the Environmental Protection Agency, Tom Perez for the Labor Department and Fred Hochberg for the Export-Import Bank. Under the terms of the deal outlined by Reid’s office, Mark Pearce would be confirmed to the NLRB while Block and Griffin would be replaced.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an embarrassing setback for President Barack Obama, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday that he violated the Constitution in making certain recess appointments and moved to curtail a chief executive’s ability in the future to circumvent the Senate in such scenarios.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session — and not in recess — at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions.

The court said the president could only fill vacancies with the recess appointment procedure if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the break between sessions of Congress.

The ruling threw into question Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray’s appointment, also made at the same time, has been challenged in a separate case.

The White House had no immediate comment.

Obama made the recess appointments on Jan. 4, 2012, after Senate Republicans spent months blocking his choices for an agency they contended was biased in favor of unions. Obama claims he acted properly because the Senate was away for the holidays on a 20-day recess. The Constitution allows for such appointments without Senate approval when Congress is in recess.

The three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents, ruled that during one of those pro forma sessions on Jan. 3, the Senate officially convened its second session of the 112th Congress, as required by the Constitution.

"Either the Senate is in session, or it is in recess," Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote in the 46-page ruling. "If it has broken for three days within an ongoing session, it is not in "the Recess" described in the Constitution."

Simply taking a break of an evening or a weekend during a regular working session cannot count, he said. Sentelle said that otherwise “the president could make appointments any time the Senate so much as broke for lunch.”

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. But if the ruling stands, it means that hundreds of decisions issued by the board over more than a year would be invalid. It also would leave the five-member labor board with just one validly appointed member, effectively shutting it down. The board is allowed to issue decisions only when it has at least three sitting members.

Obama used the recess appointment to appoint Deputy Labor Secretary Sharon Block, union lawyer Richard Griffin and NLRB counsel Terence Flynn to fill vacancies on the NLRB, giving it a full contingent for the first time in more than a year. Block and Griffin are Democrats, while Flynn is a Republican. Flynn stepped down from the board last year.

The court’s decision is a victory for Republicans and business groups that have been attacking the labor board for issuing a series of decisions and rules that make it easier for the nation’s labor unions to organize new members.


WASHINGTON (AP) — After two years of getting pummeled in Wisconsin, Indiana and other battleground states, leaders of the nation’s big labor unions were beaming on election night.

Labor’s massive voter turnout effort played a major role in helpingPresident Barack Obama win Ohio, Nevada and Wisconsin, according to exit polls, and its leaders are now looking for a more liberal, pro-union agenda from the White House.

"There are things the president can do, and we’ll be expecting that leadership from President Obama," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters after the election.

Topping labor’s wish list — for now — is a push to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and discouraging Obama from agreeing to any deal with Republicans over the looming “fiscal cliff” that cuts into Social Security and Medicare.

But unions are also pressing for new measures that might help boost their sagging membership rolls. New investment in infrastructure would bring construction jobs for trade unions. Immigration reform — and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented Latino immigrants — would create a vast new pool of potential union members. And new regulations could remove some obstacles to union organizing.

Business groups that have vigorously opposed efforts to help unions draw new members say they will keep playing defense.

"My primary concern is in the regulations," said Randel Johnson, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for labor issues. "We are afraid that on employment issues, the administration will stay firmly to the left and follow the lead of the unions.”

A new rule expected from the Labor Department would force companies to reveal relationships with so-called union-busting consulting companies even if the companies have no contact with workers. The National Labor Relations Board is expected to start work on a rule that would force businesses to turn over workers’ phone numbers, emails and shift times to union organizers.

The Obama administration might even consider a plan that would give an advantage in bidding on government contracts to companies that offer workers a higher living wage and generous benefits.

Unlike four years ago, unions have not made passage of card-check legislation a centerpiece of their agenda. The long-stalled measure that would require companies to recognize a union once more than half its eligible employees signed union cards instead of putting the question to a secret-ballot vote went nowhere in Obama’ first term, to the chagrin of many union activists.

Card check remains a dead end with Republicans in firm control of the House. Amy Dean, a former head of the AFL-CIO in California’s Silicon Valley, said unions are being more realistic about what they can get.

In addition to measures that may help increase union numbers, labor leaders are also expecting the Obama administration to issue more regulations targeting workplace safety. Proposed rules to protect workers from cancer-causing and lung-damaging silica, often found in the dust at construction sites and glass manufacturing operations, have languished at the White House for more than a year. The administration also has delayed new standards for combustible dust that can cause explosions.

Business groups have opposed the regulations, saying they overreach and would raise employers’ costs by millions of dollars.

h/t: Yahoo! News

President Obama is planning to announce today that, in addition to his recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he will also use his recess appointment powers to place Department of Labor Attorney Sharon Block, labor lawyer Richard Griffin, and NLRB counsel Terence Flynn to the National Labor Relations Board.

Like the CFPB, Republicans have spent the past year blocking nominations to the NLRB in an effort to keep the agency from functioning. Those efforts would have paid off soon, since after Craig Becker’s term on the board expired this week, the NLRB would have been reduced to two members, which is the number it had for more than two years from 2008 to 2010. This effectively shuts down the board, since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that two members does not constitute a legal quorum, and thus, a two-member board can’t make binding rulings.

Obama’s appointment of Block, Flynn, and Griffin is important, too, because it boosts the board’s membership to five, protecting its quorum even if member Brian Hayes follows through on his threats to quit. Preserving its right to quorum ensures that its rulings will not be thrown out on legal challenges, as more than 600 cases were by the Roberts Court in 2010.

Republicans have shown outrage at Obama for using his recess appointment powers with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, and similar outrage is likely to follow the news of the NLRB appointments. But the past three Republican presidents also made recess appointments to the NLRB. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush each made three recess appointments to the NLRB, while George W. Bush made seven such appointments.

H/T: Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress Economy.

Updated: Nov. 30, 4:30PM

Despite threats from the sole Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board that he’d quit over a controversial union elections law, the board voted two-to-one on Wednesday to advance part of a rule that union leaders said would decrease delays in the elections process.

The board only voted on portions of the rule that would limit litigation surrounding elections. But GOP member Brian Hayes said that the board’s decision to advance the rules went against tradition.

“I deeply believe that whatever one’s view of the need for election rule revisions may be, a final rule should not be issued in the absence of three affirmative votes to do so,” Hayes said.

“Regardless of whether a two member majority has the technical authority to act or whether there is no internal rule expressly applicable to this situation, I believe the change in current law and procedure without three affirmative votes would be contrary to the spirit of the board’s deliberative traditions, established and honored over decades… and that such actions will ultimately cause harm to the agency and the constituents that we serve,” Hayes continued.

Hayes noted that the upcoming expiration of another board member’s recess appointment would reduce the board to two members, denying them quorum for an indefinite period.

“With all due respect, this is not an emergency situation,” Hayes said. “Board members come and go under our statutory plan. Their timely replacement is a matter for the president and the United States Senate to arrange. In fact, two board member nominations have been pending in the Senate since January of this year. Inaction or disagreement on the nominations is not by itself a justification for preemptive or perceptive rule-making action by two of three sitting board members.”

“Further, no matter how passionately my colleagues believe that the proposed rule will right some fundamental wrong, I trust that they are fully aware that on some quadrennial occasion, the partisan pendulum will swing and the very precedent that they established by changing the law with only two votes may facilitate reversal of that law, presuming Congress does not act first,” Hayes said.

As the Associated Press reported, Hayes absence would have brought the board to a standstill:

But the board’s lone GOP member, Brian Hayes, has threatened to quit the agency over his objection to the planned rules, an unprecedented move that would render the board powerless to approve any new measures at all. The board needs at least three members to make any decisions.

If Hayes leaves, only two members — both Democrats — would remain instead of the five members it’s supposed to have. Congressional Republicans have blocked President Barack Obama from filling the other two vacancies at the board.

The board hasn’t yet finalized the rule, and a resignation by Hayes would still effectively block the measure. But he indicated Wednesday that he’s weighed and rejected that option.

Tomorrow, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency vested with the power to enforce the National Labor Relations Act and “to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions,” is scheduled to vote on rule amendments that would streamline the union certification process. Rulemaking is a routine bureaucratic practice, but now the sole Republican on the board’s three-member panel is threatening to block the vote and bring the entire agency to its knees for political reasons.

John Logan, Professor and Director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, wrote in The Hill:

These are strange times at the National Labor Relations Board. First, the Board has endured months of relentless right-wing attacks. Now, in an unprecedented move, Brian Hayes, the sole Republican member of the NLRB — which will be reduced to two members and lacking a quorum by the year’s end — is threatening to resign in order to sabotage a long-awaited new rule on union certification elections. […]

If Hayes resigns, the Board will lack a quorum for a final vote on the rule scheduled for November 30. Republicans have claimed, somewhat incredulously, that the election rule would “cripple American workers’ free choice.” In reality, the rule is designed to do precisely the opposite — cripple the ability of employers to undermine workers’ free choice through the use of dilatory tactics. […]

[T]he GOP attacks on the NLRB, and Hayes’ resignation threat have everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with law (and even less to do with fairness).

The move would be devastating, given that House Republicans have already indicated they will block President Obama from filling any vacancies on the board. As Logan put it, the agency would be “reduced to a shell.”

This is hardly the first assault on the NLRB from anti-labor Republicans. The 76-year old agency has inexplicably become a favorite target of the House GOP this year. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been accused of trying to “sabotage" an NLRB investigation into Boeing’s alleged retaliation against unionized workers in Washington state. Issa hyperbolically asserted that an NLRB victory in the case would mean the “forced unionization of America.” Among others, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has called for the NLRB to be dismantled, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) has led the charge with misinformation about the NLRB’s mission and litigation.