What I have learned
The National Labor Relations Board is a federal agency that is tasked with the protection of the rights of employees to organize to collectively bargain for their rights (National Labor Relations Board, 2016a). This board not only oversees the actions of the public sector, but it also regulates the relationship between private employers and their employees. Whereas the National Labor Relations Act provides the legal framework for private-sector workers for organizing themselves into bargaining units, this board provides the institutional framework through which this right is safeguarded.
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The Board protects the rights of the employers and union representatives, in addition to protecting the rights of the employees. It is vested with the responsibility of investigating any charges that are brought by any of the eligible parties about the violation of rights which are protected under the National Labor Relations Act. Where it is appropriate, the board encourages the parties to arrive at a settlement instead of opting for litigation.
In the administration of justice, it also has 40 Law judges who are well equipped to decide any cases that are brought before them. Finally, it is also important to note that the board does not have the power to enforce its decisions and where the parties refuse to comply with the orders of the board then its General Counsel has to seek the assistance of the Court of Appeals in the enforcement of the board’s orders.
The National Labor Relations Board is a rebirth of the old National Labor Board that was established by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression to mediate the disputes that were arising between employers and their employees. It followed the newly recognized right to organize (Roosevelt Institute, 2010). The following year, the powers of the board were extended to the facilitation of union representatives’ elections and handling violations of the NIRA codes.
These powers were however limited and this, in turn, curtailed the effectiveness of the board. Its major failure was considered to be its inability to achieve voluntary compliance and due to this, Wagner, who was the chairman, set up another agency to mediate labor disputes (National Labor Relations Board, 2016b). The powers of this new agency would be extended to the issuance of cease orders where it had been proven that the employer had engaged in unfair labor practices.
The National Labor Relations Board, therefore, has a long history and has existed in varying forms since the early 20th century. Furthermore, the history of the board revealed that despite its evolution over the years, the board still labors under insufficient powers to carry out its mandate. In the 1930s, it was not adequately empowered to ensure voluntary compliance as required by statute, and today; it is still limited in its functions in that it does not have the power to enforce its orders. It is, therefore, interesting that despite its long history, the board has not attained full effectiveness.
The function of the board is essential because it protects the employee’s right to form labor organizations. Essentially, the employer is restricted from acting in any way that may hinder or discourage the employee from exercising this right e.g. discriminating against those employees who choose to engage in labor organizations (National Labor Relations Board, 2016b). Moreover, the employer is also availed with various protections, and therefore the board ensures that the employer-employee relationship is well balanced.
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For example, the employee is not allowed to boycott unreasonably from working thereby causing losses for the employer (National Labor Relations Board, 2016a). In this way, the law ensures that the interests of both parties are adequately protected.
National Labor Relations Board. (2016a). Employees. Web.
National Labor Relations Board. (2016b). What we do. Web.
Roosevelt Institute. (2010). National Labor Relations Act. Web.