What are Some Important Functions of the National Labor Relations Board?

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If you’ve heard of the National Labor Relations Board, you’re probably wondering what that is and what its most important functions are. There are hundreds of boards and committees within the United States government, with an array of purposes and responsibilities. The following information can help you better understand this very important board and what they do.

What is the National Labor Relations Board?

This board is an independent agency within the federal government that has the power to protect employees’ rights to organize a union and decide whether that union can be used as their representative. The board also works to prevent and fix unjust labor practices executed by unions or employers.

The board was created in 1935 by Congress after the National Labor Relations Act was created. The National Labor Relations Act established the legal right of workers to join (or create) labor unions, giving them the legal ability to bargain with their employers. The act was later amended two times to further establish workers’ rights.

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There are 5 main members of this board whom are appointed by the President. There is also a general counsel that serves various purposes. The board members serve 5-year terms, with consent given by the Senate. The general counsel members are also appointed by the President and serve 4-year terms. This board is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but has 26 regional offices all over the country.

What are the Board’s Main Functions?

This federal board has 5 main functions. These functions are:

  • To conduct elections- The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 provided the basic framework for employees within the private sector to organize unions with other employees in their workplace. The board can conduct elections to create these unions and also elections to dissolve these labor unions through a decertification process. The board acts as an unbiased third-party during these election processes.
  • To investigate charges- Anyone, including employees, union representatives, and even employers, who believe that their rights have been violated under the National Labor Relations Act can file charges through the board at the nearest regional office, alleging unfair labor practices.
  • To facilitate settlements- If the board believes these allegations have merit, the board does its best to encourage the parties involved to resolve the case through a settlement process, instead of a litigation process.
  • To decide cases- When cases do not reach a settlement, a hearing before the board is typically necessary. Both parties involved prepare their arguments and present evidence to the board’s members and judges. The judges then issue initial decisions, which can be appealed through another process.
  • To enforce orders- Even though the majority of parties follow the orders given by the board, some do not. When orders are not being complied with, the board seeks enforcement of these orders through the U.S. Court of Appeals. The parties involved can also seek a review of decisions through the federal courts.

The decision in 1935 to allow employees to unionize began the fight in the country for workers’ rights. This board, in conjunction with many other organizations, help to ensure workers can maintain all of their rights by giving them a safe, unbiased place to take their issues. With a better understanding of the important functions of the National Labor Relations Board, you can now better understand how they fight for labor rights and the rights of the employee.

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