WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an emergency injunction blocking implementation of new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules that would require employers to post notices of workers’ legal rights to organize. The rules, In These Times reported on in detail here, would have gone into effect on April 30.
Previously, two separate courts had ruled, with different opinions, on whether or not the NLRB had the legal authority to issues the rules. Last month, a D.C. District Court judge ruled that the federal agency, which enforces federal labor law and mediates labor disputes, was within its legal authority to force employers to inform employees of their legal rights to organize. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, wrote that “The notice-posting rule is a reasonable means of promoting awareness.”
A South Carolina federal judge, however, ruled that issuing the new rules (which a majority of the agency’s board members approved) was beyond the authority of the NLRB. Judge Norton, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, wrote, “The legislative history of this [National Labor Relations] Act supports a finding that Congress did not intend to impose a universal notice-posting requirement on employers, nor did it authorize the board to do so.”
The differing opinions between the two judges forced the District of Columbia Circuit court to issue the emergency injunction until an appeal of the case can be decided. Anti-union forces like the National Association of Manufacturers, which is opposed to the rule, applauded the injunction.
“The facts in this case and the law have always been on the side of manufacturers, and we believe that granting an injunction is the appropriate course of action for the court,” said Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO. “The ‘posting requirement’ is an unprecedented attempt by the board to assert power and authority it does not possess.”
The NLRB, though, wrote in a statement that it felt it was within its legal authority to issue the rules. NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, who was appointed by President Obama, said of the recent decisions, “We continue to believe that requiring employers to post this notice is well within the Board’s authority, and that it provides a genuine service to employees who may not otherwise know their rights under our law.”