Daily Labor Report®

Labor Board Said to Freeze Hiring, Tighten Belt

March 1, 2018, 12:28 AM

The National Labor Relations Board is planning to announce a hiring freeze and other cost saving moves, a union representing NLRB employees told lawmakers in letters obtained by Bloomberg Law.

The agency plans to implement the freeze, eliminate performance awards, and lay off health services and information technology contractors, the union said in letters to four Democrats on committees with jurisdiction over the board. The union said NLRB Chairman Marvin Kaplan and General Counsel Peter Robb have depicted the moves as a response to the White House’s request to trim the board’s budget by 9 percent next year, even though Congress is unlikely to approve the request.

The NLRB didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

The board and other government agencies are currently operating under a continuing resolution that funds them through March 23. Mostly Republican lawmakers have long sought to slash the board’s funding and Trump suggested a cut last year. But significant budget reductions aren’t likely to get the Democrat backing needed to pass in the Senate. The NLRB’s annual discretionary budget has held steady at about $274 million over the last four fiscal years.

Still, President Donald Trump’s administration has pledged to slash federal spending nearly across the board. The White House has also ordered agencies to submit reorganization plans detailing how they plan to trim the fat.

“By pre-emptively implementing budget cuts that are inconsistent with current congressional appropriations and that are based on a partisan prediction about the future budget, our leadership is unnecessarily undermining the work of the agency,” union president Karen Cook told Bloomberg Law Feb. 28.

The cost-saving measures were developed by a working group of management and employee representatives to be “implemented in the contingency that the Agency’s budget was cut by $16 million,” the union said in the letter. “But that contingency has not arisen.”

Robb told a group of lawyers in New York earlier this month that the agency may also eventually need to trim full-time staff to make ends meet. A budget justification developed and submitted by NLRB leadership suggests reducing the agency’s staff from 1,476 to 1,225 employees, a more than 17% reduction, according to the union.

The union sent the letters to Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

To contact the reporter on this story: Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at hkanu@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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