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What Should You Know About the NLRB

April 18th, 2012

Acting as an independent agent of the government of the United States, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has the task of conducting certain functions involved in labor union relations. These functions include representing, investigating, and remedying labor practices deemed to be unfair.  Unfair labor practices that the NLRB investigates aren’t only for union-related situations though. The NLRB also remedies unfair labor practices with respect to protected concerted activity.

All-in-all, the NLRB has a governing board of five people, as well as General Counsel. These individuals are appointed by the President, but they also receive consent from the Senate. Board members have a five year appointment, while General Counsel members have a four-year term. The General Counsel plays a key role as prosecutor, while the Board plays the role of the appellate judicial body.

Functions of the National Labor Relations Board from an HR Perspective

Human Resource managers should be well-aware of the functions and benefits of the National Labor Relations Board.  Overall, the NLRB protects the rights of employers of the private sector. It also helps improve both working conditions and wages. For this reason alone, it serves an important function, purpose, and benefit.

Specific functions the NLRB is tasked with include the following:

Responds to Unfair Labor Relations Practices

A very important function of the NRLB is their responsibility to respond to complaints of unfair labor practices. When hearing complaints relating to unfair practices in labor, it provides orderly and organized processing for both protecting and implementing the rights of all workforce parties. These include not only employees and union workers, but employers as well. The NLRB has a vested interest and power in safeguarding the rights of employees who may want to organize and team together in a union as a representation agent in bargaining.

Any employee, employer, or union member who thinks their rights – pertaining to alleged unfair labor practices – under the National Labor Relations Act, have been violated, are welcome to file charges at their nearest NLRB office.  Keep in mind that whenever a charge is decided to have merit, the NLRB prefers parties to settle the grievance outside of the courtroom whenever possible, rather than seeking litigation.

Conducts Elections

Conducting and overseeing elections is another important role of the NLRB. To determine whether a majority interest of employees want to form a union, the NLRB receives thousands of filed petitions in regional offices by employers, unions, and employees, and then determines if the number of signed petitions is adequate.

The National Labor Relations Board is a long-standing agency that has been protecting the rights of employers, employees, and unions since it was formed in 1935.


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