Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



One potential agency in the attack on racial discrimination in employment is the National Labor Relations Board. The President has indicated that substantial reliance will be placed on that agency for the vindication of Negro rights in areas of employment not covered by Executive Order 10925. Less than a year. ago the board's approach in this area was cautious and its proper role ill-defined and speculative.' Within the past year, however, the NLRB has moved rapidly by sharpening four, possibly five, anti-bias remedies. Three have roots in early NLRB decisions. The fourth is new. The fifth, resurrection of which has only been hinted at so far,is also derived from early Board decisions. The first three of these remedies are (a) the decertification of unions which discriminate against Negroes, (b) the setting aside of representation elections where an employer or a union makes "exacerbated" appeals to racial bias, and (c) the removal of discriminatory collective bargaining contracts as bars to representation petitions by stranger unions.' The fourth consists of the Board's preventing a union, when acting in its "statutory representative capacity, from taking action against any employee upon considerations or classifications which are irrelevant, invidious, or unfair." Similarly, employer participation in such action may be remedied.' The fifth remedy would make it an unfair labor practice for an employer or a union to make such exacerbated appeals to racial bias in a representation campaign as would be grounds for setting aside a representation election. Whether these remedies will be effective cannot be foretold. It is important for now, however, to inquire whether the NLRB's assumption of responsibility in this area is justified. This paper is an attempt to explore that question.