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NLRB Issues Cost-Cutting Memo to Regions: Budget Shortfall Leads to Instructions to Settle Cases, Disconnect Phone Lines, Curtail Travel, Cut Postage, and Videotape Testimony

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by   Samuel Morris               Godwin Morris Laurenzi Bloomfield

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Ed. Note:  NLRB Cost Cutting Memo Attached

 

 NLRB Issues Cost-Cutting Memo to Regions: Budget Shortfall Leads to Instructions to Settle Cases, Disconnect Phone Lines, Curtail Travel, Cut Postage, and Videotape TestimonyOM 16_09 Casehandling Cost Saving Instructions for Remainder of Fiscal Year 2016 pdf.pdf

NLRB Memo Touts Quick Settlements As Cost Savers

  By Vin Gurrieri                      Inline image 1

Law360, New York (March 11, 2016, 9:03 PM ET) -- A top National Labor Relations Boardoperations official has sent a memo to regional directors and other personnel acknowledging that the agency is facing a budget shortfall the rest of the fiscal year and suggesting various cost cutting measures, including working toward early settlements in unfair labor practice and election disputes.

Anne Purcell, an associate general counsel who oversees the agency's division of operations management, sent the memo on March 9 to regional directors, officers-in-charge and resident officers advising them on potential practices and strategies they could implement amid the agency's budget uncertainty, one of which is an emphasis on swift settlements.

Purcell said that field offices have enjoyed "remarkable success" in securing settlements in unfair labor practice cases and union election agreements that resolved pre-election disputes -- deals that take on "special importance" amid the fiscal shortfall and "must be pursued."

"In addition, ... significant savings of agency staff and budget resources result from high settlement and election agreement rates," Purcell's memo said. "Accordingly, in all regional offices, and especially in those offices where performance in these areas is below the national experience, redoubled efforts should be made to resolve cases."

Titled "Casehandling cost saving instructions for remainder of fiscal year 2016," the memo suggested continued training for regional office personnel on settlement techniques and that regional directors should be directly involved in settlement efforts.

For cases where settlement efforts fail, Purcell suggested the regional office conduct pretrial proceedings either electronically or in conjunction with other required travel to curtail transportation costs.

Other strategies that the field offices could use to promote shorter and more efficient trials, according to the memo, include choosing the least costly facilities to rent and assigning only one attorney to out-of-town cases except in large cases that require the extra resources.

In certain cases, regional offices should also consider having trial attorneys use oral argument at the end of a hearing in lieu of filing post-trial briefs and encourage administrative law judges to issue bench decisions, according to the memo.

The regional offices should also consider, where appropriate, using video testimony by witnesses in unfair labor practice proceedings before an administrative law judge, the memo said.

With regard to unfair labor practice investigations, Purcell suggested that the field offices use alternative investigative methods such as questionnaires, telephone affidavits, video conference interviews and position statements -- techniques that reduce or eliminate travel costs usually associated with such investigations.

"Face-to-face affidavits remain the cornerstone of our investigations," Purcell wrote. "Experience has shown, however, that there are also alternative investigative techniques that can save time and resources without adversely affecting quality in certain types of cases."

More procedural recommendation floated by Purcell included cutting back on private mail services, disconnecting unused phone lines, and having travel coordinators cluster traveling assignments.

Although Purcell's memo was directed to the agency's field offices, she assured its recipients that other agency-wide and headquarters cost cutting initiatives are also in the works and will be announced shortly.

"Hiring opportunities in fiscal year 2016 will likely continue to be extremely limited, so we must carefully manage our resources in order to handle the agency's caseloads as effectively as possible," Purcell wrote in her memo to the regional offices. "Vigilance in the management of our limited resources must be maintained if we are to continue to enforce the [NLRA] effectively and provide the essential services we perform to the national economy and to individual working people and businesses."

A representative for the NLRB declined to comment on the memo Friday.

--Editing by Kelly Duncan.


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