NLRB Strategic Plan Aims to Shorten Time for Resolving Cases

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

January 7, 2019

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will be looking to improve its efficiency in handling cases over the next four years, according to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 to 2022. Executive departments, government corporations and independent agencies are required to develop and post a strategic plan with mission-related goals on their public website every four fiscal years.

The NLRB's four FY 2019 - FY 2022 goals are:

  • Increase the timeliness of unfair labor practice (ULP) charges case processing by 20% (5% in each of four years);
  • Resolve a greater number of representation cases within 100 days of an election petition filing;
  • Achieve organizational excellence and productivity; and
  • Manage agency resources efficiently and in a manner that instills public trust.

The required 5% annual improvement in timeliness for charge resolution extends to not only case handling in the regional offices, but also the time between issuance of an administrative law judge's decision and a board order, and issuance of a board order and closure of a case.

In support of the Strategic Plan, NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a memorandum (GM 19-02) aimed directly at reducing case processing time. Stating that prompt resolution of labor disputes has always been an essential part of the agency's statutory mission, Robb noted that the amount of time it takes for cases to be processed and resolutions reached has increased, causing a backlog of cases. "My goal is to reverse this trend," said Robb.

The key change ordered in GM 19-02 is the halt of the NLRB's Impact Analysis program and "end of month" time targets. Previously, regions were required to submit reports at the end of each month detailing actions taken on cases due in the month.

A case's due date depended on when it was filed and if the case was classified as a Category I, II, or III (exceptional impact) case. Category III cases required the fastest processing because they covered urgent and immediate issues (such as possible injunctions or discharges). A region could postpone an end of the month deadline for sufficient reason, such as new charges, amended charges or the issuance of subpoenas.

Citing the "unacceptable rise in the amount of time it takes to resolve cases" caused by the Impact Analysis program and "end of month" time targets, the programs were rescinded effective immediately. Instead each region's performance will be evaluated based on:

  • Time between the filing of a charge to its disposition;
  • Time between the issuance of a board order to the closure of the case; and
  • Time between the approval of an informal settlement agreement to closure of the case.

Regions will be permitted to develop their own case management systems, rather than be subject to a nationwide system imposed by the NLRB main office.