All unfair labor practice hearings have been canceled by National Labor Relations Board officials because of a budget shortfall that has hampered the federal agency and threatened its employees with temporary layoffs.
The cancellations affect every NLRB field and regional office in the nation, including the office in Los Angeles. William Pate, NLRB deputy regional attorney in Los Angeles, said the shortage of funds has caused the cancellation of 10 hearings in the region and one in San Diego that began on Monday.
The San Diego hearing resulted from unfair labor practice charges leveled against the Union-Tribune Publishing Co. by the San Diego Newspaper Guild during a bitter and lengthy contract dispute that ended earlier this year.
Guild administrative officer Bill Knight said he was “disappointed and shocked” by the sudden cancellation on the same day the hearing began.
San Diego County labor leaders reacted with anger Tuesday when told that NLRB investigators were instructed by agency officials in Washington to curtail their probes into charges of unfair labor practices made by labor unions and employers.
“This means the whole process (investigating allegations of unfair labor practices) will be delayed,” said Joe Francis, executive secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. “It’s not the swiftest process to begin with.”
Francis, the top labor official in the county, said any hearing delays or cancellations caused by the NLRB’s budget woes will favor employers.
“Essentially, most of the charges presented to the NLRB are made by labor,” Francis said. “Delays have been a standard tactic of employers. This (NLRB action) will only help employers. This will have a tremendous effect on labor relations.”
Claude Marston, resident officer of the San Diego NLRB office, said he and his fellow workers were ordered on Monday to cancel all hearings set for September and not to schedule any new ones.
He added that “it’s uncertain” if any hearings will be scheduled in October.
In Los Angeles, Pate said he did not know the size of the budget shortfall or its cause.
“I don’t know the details for the reason for the shortage of funds,” Pate said. “But there has been a shortage that requires a curtailment of our activities until the end of the fiscal year.”
The federal fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.