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Labor Board Acts to Address Budget Deficit

The National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel has directed the Board’s regional offices to institute cost-cutting measures in light of a significant budget deficit facing the agency for the balance of fiscal year 2016 (ending September 30).

In Memorandum OM-16-09, NLRB Associate General Counsel Anne Purcell instructed regional directors, officers-in-charge, and residents officers to institute cost-saving actions across the full range of Board activities, including representation elections, unfair labor practice investigations and trials, and office administration.

Among the actions being taken are the following:

  • Board agents are to redouble efforts to avoid hearings and trials by reaching stipulated election agreements (although, under the Board’s new “quickie” election rules, there are fewer issues to litigate at a hearing) and to settle “meritorious” unfair labor practice charges as early in the investigation as possible. (The Board’s pursuit of these goals could help employers in settlement negotiations.)

  • The hallmark of a Board unfair labor practice investigation had been the face-to-face affidavit. The Memorandum instructs that, in unfair labor practice investigations, the full use of “alternative investigatory techniques,” such as “questionnaires, telephone affidavits, videoconference interviews…position statements and other techniques that reduce or eliminate…travel costs,” is encouraged. The Memorandum also advises investigators to exceed the Board’s time targets (for deciding whether unfair labor practice charges have merit) if doing so can reduce costs; particularly if there are multiple cases involving the same parties or are open in the same locale.

  • Where cases are going to hearing or trial, in order to reduce travel expenses, the Memo urges that preparation be conducted in the regional office, making use of telephone and videoconferencing to prepare witnesses and for other pre-litigation matters. (Despite this advice, as is the case now, Board attorneys are expected to meet with witnesses twice, but with one meeting occurring on the eve of trial.) Preferably, trials should be conducted at the regional offices to reduce facility rental costs and to permit “inexperienced counsel the opportunity to ‘second chair’ senior counsel as a training exercise.” The General Counsel also will be more receptive to witness testimony by video.

  • Lastly, confirming that desperate times call for desperate measures, Board staff are instructed to save on paper costs in a number of ways: by foregoing filing post-trial briefs and, instead, encouraging judges to issue bench decisions, utilizing “double-sided photocopying . . . whenever possible,” and using “single space…for documents that are not filed with the Board or courts.”

While the directed actions are focused on the present budget, they also look to be “best practices” that the Board may continue in future years.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 82


About this Author

Patrick Egan, Labor Law Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Boston Law Firm
Patrick L. Egan

Patrick L. Egan is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Egan works in traditional labor law.

He has assisted employers in all industries in all phases of union organizing campaigns. Mr. Egan has represented employers in card-signing efforts and representation and decertification campaigns. He has conducted union awareness and positive employee relations training for hundreds of companies and employer groups. He has also assisted dozens of employers to preempt, prepare for and defend against union corporate campaigning....

Howard Bloom, Jackson Lewis, labor union attorney, unfair practice investigations lawyer, employment legal counsel, bargaining law

Howard M. Bloom is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law representing exclusively employers for more than 36 years.

Mr. Bloom counsels clients in a variety of industries on labor law issues. He trains and advises executives, managers and supervisors on union awareness and positive employee relations, and assists employers in connection with union card-signing efforts, traditional union representation and corporate campaigns, and union decertification campaigns. He also represents clients at the National Labor Relations Board in connection with bargaining unit issues, objections and challenges, as well as unfair labor practice investigations and trials. Mr. Bloom also has been the spokesperson at countless first and successor contract collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly advises on collective bargaining agreement administration issues, including grievance/arbitration issues.

Mr. Bloom has appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, several U.S. District Courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Philip B. Rosen Jackson Lewis  Preventive Practices Lawyer & Collective Bargaining Attorney

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and co-leads the firm's Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-...