Union Pressure Wins Small Improvement in Labor Board Funding

January 23, 2023

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the federal agency responsible for running union elections and enforcing labor laws. Since 2014, the funding for the NLRB has been kept at a level dollar amount of $274 million per year (i.e., it has not even been adjusted for inflation). In real terms, this means that there are fewer resources and fewer staff available to run union elections and investigate unfair labor practice claims — the board has been forced to cut its staff by 37 percent since 2017.

Bringing the NLRB budget up to what is needed became a possibility when Democrats took control of Congress in 2021 — Republicans are dead-set against raising its budget — but the corporate Democrats who lead the party did not prioritize it in negotiations over the spending bill that became the Inflation Reduction Act.

Meanwhile, petitions to form a union increased by 58 percent in the first half of 2022, compared to the same period the year before. Reports of unfair labor practices increased by 18 percent.

Following the midterm elections, the labor movement and allies put on a full-court press to get increased funding for the NLRB before the new Republican majority took office in January. UE put out a political action alert, and over 100 people used our online tool to send letters to Congress.

Congress did respond to the pressure by including a $25 million increase to the NLRB budget in the spending bill they passed in December. This is still far short of what is needed, but a victory nonetheless, one made possible only by grassroots pressure from working people.