Judges Against Workers

It should come as no shock that Republicans in Congress would like to see the power of labor further diminished. The same is true of governors and state legislatures in red and purple states such as Wisconsin and Indiana. But now conservative courts have joined the fray.

Just this past week, the National Labor Relations Board was put in legal limbo -- with the possibility that more than 300 of its decisions over the last year could be nullified -- as a result of a federal appeals court ruling in the nation's capital that President Obama's recess appointments to the Board were invalid.

Among the decisions that could be vacated are three recent rulings in which the Board had assumed a powerful role in telling companies that they can't issue blanket prohibitions on what their employees say on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The Board said workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on social media.

By ruling that Mr. Obama's three appointments last January were illegal, the court's ruling would leave the Board with just one member, short of the quorum needed to issue any rulings. If the Supreme Court upholds the decision, it would mean that the labor board did not have a quorum since last January and that all its rulings since then should be nullified.

Union officials voiced concern on Friday that if the federal court's ruling denies the NLRB a quorum, it could take years for the Board to be able to act in legal disputes involving unionization drives or elections, strikes or the firings of pro-union workers.

Republicans and big business, in contrast, were elated. 

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