Today, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to two labor relations cases, NLRB v. Noel Canning and Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall.
In NLRB v. Noel Canning, the Court will decide whether President Obama’s controversial recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board violated the Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act. In Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall, the Court was asked to determine an employer’s ability to remain neutral and bargain with the union at the expense of the employee. Both decisions would have a profound impact on limiting the political influence of labor and upholding the rights of the individual worker.
If the Court upholds the Circuit court’s opinion in NLRB v. Noel Canning, it would potentially invalidateapproximately 1,000 decisions and orders of the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRA dictates that the president may only nominate persons to the NLRB by Senate confirmation, or direct appointment if the Senate is in recess. Judge David Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit Court wrote in his opinion that the administration’s interpretation of the recess appointment power would give the President “free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction.”
The decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning will impact the influence of the NLRB during President Obama’s presidency and might cancel the “repayment” of the President’s “debts” to labor for their support of his 2012 re-election.
In Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall, Mardi Gras Gaming engaged in an agreement of neutrality with Unite Here Local 355 on the condition of partial disclosure of information by the employer, a no-striking agreement by the union, and increased union political support of gambling. In exchange for this “non-aggression pact,” Mardi Gras Gaming provided employee information to the union in furtherance of organizing. According to Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act, an employer cannot “pay, lend, or deliver, or agree to pay, lend or deliver, any money or other thing of value” [emphasis added] to any labor organization. Therefore, Mardi Gras Gaming cannot bribe unions for better relations between the company and the union. In the lower courts, the Fourth and Third Circuits determined that employer assistance was not a thing of value; however, the Eleventh Circuit found the employees’ personal information and union’s political assistance as having value. Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall will decide if organizing assistance constitutes a “thing of value” when bargaining with union organizers.