Trump Budget Proposes 18 Percent Worker Cut at NLRB

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Republican President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the year starting Oct. 1 proposes cutting workers at the National Labor Relations Board by 18 percent, detailed figures show. The reduction would be from 1,596 workers in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, to 1,320 in the following year.

If the GOP-run Congress agrees, the board’s budget would also decline slightly, from $274 million this fiscal year, to $258 million in fiscal 2018. The board oversees and rules on labor-management conflicts from the private sector, except for railroads and airlines.

The budget blueprint also says the Trump administration wants to ban the board from instituting a rule to permit electronic voting in union representation elections. Workers and their allies have been pushing for electronic voting to take advantage of new technology and to lessen the potential for boss’ intimidation at voting sites.

The budget did not justify the deep cut in NLRB workers, other than to forecast the agency’s caseload would decline. It also did not specify which workers would be let go.

But the budget predicts the board would handle 19,809 labor law-breaking – formally called unfair labor practices – cases in the new fiscal year, some 1,500 fewer complaints than this year. ULP complaints and cases account for the overwhelming majority of NLRB actions.

An AFL-CIO spokeswoman, told of the cuts, said the federation would have a more-detailed budget analysis next week. Pro-worker lawyers’ organizations had yet to comment.

The National Mediation Board, which oversees airline and railroad labor-management relations, would not suffer any cuts under Trump’s budget blueprint. NMB covers some 746 rail and airline firms with 795,000 workers, the budget notes.  NMB’s budget would stay the same at $13.2 million. Its workforce would stay at 51, but they’d be handling 7,432 cases in fiscal 2018, up almost 20 percent from this year, the budget forecasts.    



Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work