The Obama Board Takes Shape: Dramatic Changes May Be on the Horizon for Employers

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President Barack Obama's designation of Wilma Liebman as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board ("the Board" or NLRB), as well as the likely confirmation of nominees Craig Becker, Mark Pearce and Brian Hayes as a "package," will result in the Board being at full strength with five members for the first time in years. The backgrounds of the current and future Members of the Board, as well as their writings, indicate that the current state of labor law may change significantly during the new "Obama Board, affecting both unionized and non-union employers. Proponents of organized labor have argued that the pendulum swung too far in favor of management during the years of the "Bush Board," and will likely ask the Obama Board to move federal labor law in the opposite direction. A review of recent dissenting opinions in noteworthy decisions issued by the Bush Board may therefore provide some insight into policy shifts that may occur under the Obama Board in the coming months and years, especially in the areas of human resources policies and procedures, Weingarten rights of non-union employees, voluntary recognition, supervisory status, corporate campaigns, the ability of unions to engage in secondary activity through the use of banners, and the ability of employers to limit non-employee access to their premises.

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