News from EPI Worker democracy is at risk if Congress does not increase NLRB funding

As Congress negotiates a year-end government budget bill, a key priority must be to boost funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to ensure they have the resources to protect workers’ rights.

Workers seeking to organize unions in their workplaces need assurances that the NLRB will be able to protect their rights to a free and fair election, and that employers are held accountable for illegal union-busting. And yet, with worker organizing on the rise, NLRB leadership has warned that the agency will need to enact a hiring freeze and will likely be forced to furlough staff if it does not receive increased funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.

For nearly a decade, NLRB funding has essentially plateaued. Adjusting for inflation, the agency’s budget has decreased 25% since 2014. This is at a time when the NLRB has seen a 23% increase in overall cases from 2021, the largest single-year increase since FY1976, and the largest percentage increase since FY1959. 

The consequences of a funding shortfall could be disastrous for workers who rely on the NLRB to fairly oversee their efforts to unionize and to hold employers accountable for violating their rights, including Amazon and Starbucks workers. We urge Congress to move beyond a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the agency’s inadequate funding flat, and to reach an agreement that increases non-defense spending enough to give the NLRB the resources it desperately needs to fulfill the agency’s basic mandate.

See more work by Celine McNicholas and Samantha Sanders