Congress has approved a $25 million funding boost for the National Labor Relations Board, and labor experts hope it will allow the agency to better handle a swath of petitions from people who want to unionize their workplaces.
According to the board, more than 2,500 union petitions have been filed between September 2021 and October 2022, the most the agency has seen since 2016. But since 2014, the board has also seen a 25% decline in funding.
Erin Mahoney, organizing coordinator for the Communications Workers of America-District 1, described what a better-funded board would be capable of.
“A well-funded National Labor Relations Board would mean that we would go back to having on-time elections, and not waiting weeks for those to be determined, sometimes months,” Mahoney pointed out. “We’d be able to see decisions made more quickly when employers put forward like frivolous appeals and things like that.”
Though the agency received $25 million, several members of Congress signed a letter saying the agency should receive $368 million of additional support. Mahoney noted if a hike had not been approved, it would have further delayed ongoing union organizing efforts across the country.
The agency was preparing for dire consequences if the funding didn’t come through. In November, the board’s Chairwoman and General Counsel sent a letter to members of a U.S. House subcommittee, urging them to approve a budget increase.
Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America-District 1, explained what a lack of funding would have meant for worker’s rights.
“Really there is only one place, the National Labor Relations Board, that protects workers in these situations,” Steffens emphasized. “So, if they are underfunded, it’s like tying the government’s hand behind its back when it comes to enforcing labor laws.”
The board had already implemented a hiring freeze to weather the effects from low funding. The letter added the board expects to use the additional budget amount for a pay increase in January, and to cover non-labor-related inflation costs.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.