Any government agency that uses a set of initials in place of its name makes most ordinary citizens a bit nervous. They can spell bad news for people who don’t tow the line and follow the rules they set forth. The same holds true with the National Labor Relations Board, otherwise known as the NLRB. This organization was created as part of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
The NLRB is supposed to be a completely independent agency of the government, and is in charge of overseeing labor union elections as well as investigating and eliminating unfair labor practices in union and non-union businesses. That’s the part that many business owners fail to realize.
With no union members on their payrolls, a lot of small business owners and managers are under the mistaken assumption that the rules set forth by the NLRB aren’t meant for them. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, most decisions made by the NLRB board impact all union, non-union, private-sector, and non-profit companies that employ one or more people. Very few of their decisions are limited to union employees alone.
The Impact of the NLRB on Your Business
Sadly, this is an instance where the things that you don’t know really can hurt you – a lot. First of all, congressional approval isn’t needed for the rulings of the NLRB board to become law. While the board itself is supposed to be apolitical, it tends to rule according to the political affiliations of the members. A Republican-leaning board tends to side with the companies more often than not, while a Democrat-learning majority often rules in a pro-union manner.
Here’s where things can get a little confusing. It’s common practice for the NLRB to reverse the decisions of previous boards. This means it’s up to the business owners to stay on top of what’s going on with the NLRB. Whether you’re privy to decisions or revisions, you’re ultimately still responsible for upholding the rulings sent down from the board.
How can you stay out of trouble with the NLRB?
- Carefully monitor new rulings. How are they going to impact your workplace as they are being considered? (you can generally tell how a ruling is going to go by who is on the board at the moment).
- Avoid any illegal activity, including discrimination against hiring union members.
- Be aware of any previous NLRB rulings that are on the chopping block at any given moment and how those changes will impact your business as well.
- Educate your employees and strictly enforce policies that are designed to promote the NLRB rulings in place.
Your best defense against serious legal troubles with the NLRB is to stay on top of things. Avoid even the slightest appearance of wrongdoing. Keep your business on the straight and narrow and the NLRB shouldn’t find any fault with you or how you operate your business.