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Public Statements

Letter to Senator Tom Harkin - Senate Republicans Call for Hearing on NLRB Budget Request

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, along with 13 Republican senators today sent a letter to Chairman Tom Harkin requesting a committee hearing on the fiscal year 2014 budget request of the National Labor Relations Board, which asks for an increase in funding to accommodate increased hiring at a time the board's caseload "has dropped almost 9 percent."

The Senators wrote: "These increases do not appear to correlate with the workload at the NLRB. In fact, the Board's caseload has dropped almost 9 percent in the last two years, with a 3 percent drop in FY2012 and a 5.9 percent drop in FY2011. The number of cases decided and representation elections held have also declined in recent years."

They added: "It is perplexing to see this significant budget request in light of the budget challenges all federal agencies are currently facing. We would appreciate the opportunity to question NLRB leadership about workload decline and projections, including both the Board side and General Counsel side. We would also like to inquire about workforce management practices currently in place and staffing levels, including hiring history, patterns and projections, as well as other resource management issues."

The NLRB's own data confirm that over a longer span of time--the last 20 years--the annual representation caseload has dropped by 59 percent, the number of representation cases the Board decided has dropped by 72 percent, the number of unfair labor practice cases has dropped by 33 percent, the number of unfair labor practice cases the Board decided has dropped by 63 percent, the number of elections held has dropped by 57 percent (although the union win rate has increased), yet during the same period funding has increased more than 70 percent.

The letter was sent by Alexander along with Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), John Boozman (R-Ark.)., Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Senator Harkin,

We write to request that the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies hold a hearing on the budget request of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and invite Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon to appear as witnesses. As members either of this Subcommittee or of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, we have a strong interest in ensuring that the NLRB properly utilizes its resources in a manner that adheres to congressional intent under Federal law.

This agency has requested a 1.7 percent increase in funding for fiscal year 2014 and plans to increase hiring. These increases do not appear to correlate with the workload at the NLRB. In fact, the Board's caseload has dropped almost 9 percent in recent years, with a 3 percent drop in FY2012 and a 5.9 percent drop in FY2011. The number of cases decided and representation elections held have also declined in recent years. Due to extenuating circumstances, the NLRB has had chronic Board Member vacancies which should have enabled temporary consolidation of Member staffs to reduce the need for new hiring during limited budget periods such as the current sequestration.

It is perplexing to see this significant budget request in light of the budget challenges all federal agencies are currently facing. We would appreciate the opportunity to question NLRB leadership about workload decline and projections, including both the Board side and General Counsel side. We would also like to inquire about workforce management practices currently in place and staffing levels, including hiring history, patterns and projections, as well as other resource management issues.

It has been some time since the Subcommittee conducted a hearing to fully review the NLRB's budget request. Although the Board is small in comparison to other agencies the Subcommittee oversees, it is important to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being properly utilized in all agencies within its jurisdiction. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Lamar Alexander
Jerry Moran
Richard Shelby
Thad Cochran
Lindsey Graham
Mark Kirk
Mike Johanns
John Boozman
Mike Enzi
Johnny Isakson
Richard Burr
Orrin Hatch
Pat Roberts
Tim Scott


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