Letter to Senator Schumer: Fund the National Labor Relations Board

AGMA’s recent experiences with NLRB delays underscore why properly resourcing the Board is urgently needed.

AGMA and our members rely on the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”, or, “the Board”) to administer elections for new bargaining units and to rectify violations of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or the “Act”), both by our signatory companies and by non-union employers operating in the performing arts. For those who may not know, the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of workers to engage in collective action at work, including to form unions; it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of these rights, and the NLRA is the government organization that enforces these rights in workplaces across the country.

All to say, the NLRB requires significant additional funding in order to fulfill its statutory charge of protecting the right of American workers to engage in concerted action in the workplace.

To put the matter simply, there is now more for the agency to do, with no additional resources available to do it. The NLRB budget has been flat for nearly a decade, meaning that its funding has declined dramatically in real terms over that period due to inflation. This drop in support has resulted in the agency being understaffed and lacking the resources it needs to preserve labor peace and administer the NLRA in a manner that guarantees the rights of both union and non-union workers. The funding crunch has been exacerbated by an inspiring flood of petitions for union elections from workers across all sectors of the economy, most notably from workers at Starbucks’ locations nationwide. While this upswing in organizing is inspiring, heartening, and long overdue, it has exacerbated an already dire resource problem at the NLRB.

This situation is untenable. The lack of resources and capacity at the Board has an ongoing serious and deleterious impact on unions and workers. Employers know that the Board cannot possibly handle the volume of election petitions and ULPs that come before it, and they, therefore, violate the Act with impunity, both in the context of union elections and in the day-to-day administration of union and non-union workforces alike. Unions that rely on the Board to redress violations for the Act in any context know that they may have to wait months or years for a remedy for even the most blatant and flagrant illegal behavior. This is therefore a budgetary condition that has shifted the balance of power away from workers and unions and toward management.

If the NLRB is unable to fulfill its statutory function, we will only see more illegal violations of the Act, but also more work stoppages, more labor disputes, and growing unrest.

Below is the letter AGMA President Ray Menard sent Senator Schumer on August 29, 2022. The letter expresses AGMA’s strong support for funding the National Labor Relations Board. AGMA’s recent experiences with NLRB delays underscore why properly resourcing the Board is urgently needed, and it is all outlined in the letter.