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This story has received very little coverage, but today was nearly the day the National Labor Relations Board, for all intents and purposes, died. The NLRB is supposed to have 5 members, but presently has 3 because of Republican obstructionism. There are 2 Democrats and 1 Republican, Brian Hayes. Angry about new rules designed to limit endless employer appeals of scheduled workplace unionization votes in order to buy more time to defeat unions, Hayes threatened to resign from the board. Had he done so, the NLRB could not have reached a quorum and would have been paralyzed. Had this happened, there’s little reason to believe it ever it would have revived in a meaningful way. Maybe Republicans would have filled the positions when they took over, maybe they would have just let it die, but any chance it could have served as an fair arbiter for American labor would have ended.

Luckily, Hayes decided not to resign, citing his desire to not be an obstructionist (are we sure he’s actually a Republican?) and his respect for the institution. Crisis averted for now. But the long-term future of the NLRB remains up in the air because Hayes could bail at any time.

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