Supreme Court will rule on NLRB situation that has left healthcare workers and employers in doubt

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The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear a case on disputed National Labor Relations Board appointments that President Barack Obama made in 2012, which have created uncertainty about the legitimacy of subsequent NLRB actions. Nursing homes and other healthcare providers are among the many businesses that have been affected by NLRB decisions during this time period.

Obama appointed three people to the NLRB board in January 2012. Opponents said Obama overreached by making the appointments while the Senate was not in official recess, but rather was in pro forma session during a holiday break. The White House countered that no Senate business can be conducted during a pro forma session, and the president was within his rights to make the recess appointments at that time. Both major political parties have used pro forma sessions to prevent presidents from making appointments. 

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the president's NLRB appointments exceeded his Constitutional authority. The ruling cast doubt on hundreds of NLRB decisions, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper quoted Pamela Allen, legal director of National Nurses United, who expressed concern that healthcare workers could suffer if employers contest recent NLRB decisions.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents many long-term care workers, did not issue a response to the Supreme Court announcement on Monday, a spokesman told McKnight's

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce cheered the decision, saying that a ruling will give businesses much-needed clarity. The Chamber's in-house lawyers are part of the legal team representing Noel Canning Corporation, the business that challenged the NLRB appointments.

The NLRB was subject to controversy even before Obama made the 2012 appointments. In one example, in 2010, the board pressed for a rule requiring employers to display posters informing workers of their right to unionize. Critics said the required posters were too overtly pro-union, which the NLRB disputed. In May, a federal appellate court ruled that the NLRB rule went too far, and tossed it.

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