President Barack Obama’s top labor arbiters have overturned a cumulative 4,500 years of legal precedent over the past eight years, according to a new study.
The National Labor Relations Board, an agency that oversees union elections and workplace disputes, has issued numerous new rules that changed longstanding agency practices, as well as issued decisions that overturned decades of precedent.
In all, the board has overturned 91 precedents, wiping out more than 4,000 years of case law—averaging more than 45 years per decision; the agency’s new election rules overturned a combined 454 years of protocol, according to a study from three labor attorneys at the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Workplace Policy Institute.
Those decisions and new rules have radically changed workplace operations on everything from establishing micro-unions to dues withholdings to holding umbrella companies accountable for the behavior of franchisees or subcontractors to shortening the length of union campaigns and disclosure practices during elections.
The overturned precedents have been in lockstep with the labor agenda at the expense of standing law that had been previously untouched by appointees from both Democratic and Republican White Houses, according to the report.
“In each case where the Obama Board changed the law, the resulting new law became more favorable to labor interests than it did under previous Board rulings—frequently at the expense of promoting stable bargaining and economic growth and without regard for balancing the interests of business, labor and employees under the Act,” the study says. “A high percentage of the precedent the Obama Board overturned were more than ten years old and had been previously adopted by Board members of both political parties.”
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