What is the National Labor Relations Board?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 May 2020
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acts as an independent agency under the jurisdiction of the United States government. It operates with full autonomy outside of other government agencies and focuses on a variety of specific issues involving labor. Some of the main focuses of the organization include labor unions and general labor practices. The NLRB has the authority to intervene on behalf of workers operating within the confines of the United States and was established by executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.

The full jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board is limited to either private sector employees and those of the U.S. Postal Service. It cannot intervene or claim any authority with other government employees. The organization is also prevented from handling concerns over railroad, airline or agricultural employees according to the Adamson Railway Labor Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The primary duties of the National Labor Relations Board are to oversee elections of labor unions, conduct investigations and make decisions regarding unfair labor practices. In regards to labor unions, its responsibility is to maintain proper procedures and push for clarity and transparency. It also mitigates the possibility of corruption and calls for overall fairness in contract negotiations. Unfair labor practices in general account for any violations conducted by employers. This can include wage disputes, safety violations, harassment and other general conduct questions. The exact parameters of what a private company can do and what it can't do are the main concern of the organization.

According to the Taft-Hartley Act, the National Labor Relations Board is divided into two distinct bodies: the Board itself and a General Counsel. The General Counsel is comprised of five people appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the U.S. Senate. These appointments last for four years. The Board itself is comprised of thirty regional offices. These offices are staffed by elected officials and administrators which handle all of the investigations and related duties in their areas. The balance of power is separated with a checks and balances system in which the General Counsel acts as the prosecutor in cases and the Board fulfills the duty of a judicial body.

The NLRB is divided into four sectors: the Division of Administration, the Division of Advice, the Division of Operations Management and the Division of Enforcement Litigation. Each division is responsible for specific sections of management when handling the processes of labor disputes and union regulations.

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