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Sen. Lamar Alexander: De-politicize the NLRB

To the editor: Your editorial on my bill to reform the National Labor Relations Board reads like union talking points. Rather, the bill is simply intended to change the NLRB from an advocate to an impartial umpire in labor disputes. ("A grand design for greater gridlock at National Labor Relations Board," Editorial, Sept. 28)

Your editorial insists that by expanding the board from five members to six — three from each political party — the board will be "deadlocked." In fact, the bill contains two provisions designed to avoid just that: Either party to a case could appeal to a federal appeals court if it doesn't get a decision from the board within a year, and the board would have its budget cut by a fifth if it doesn't decide most cases within a year.

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Today, partisan gridlock is the norm at the NLRB. In 2013, 30% of the board's cases had been without a decision for more than a year. My bill would get things moving again.

The editorial also criticizes a provision that would allow parties to appeal complaints filed by the NLRB's general counsel. Recent activist general counsels have misused their broad authority to file complaints with little basis in the law but plenty of partisan support. Our bill would allow employers as well as unions to nip such unlawful complaints in the bud.

My bill would restore the NLRB to its rightful role as an umpire. That's bitter medicine for the labor unions, but it's common sense to everyone else.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

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