SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, AFTER HIS PUSH, NLRB TO KEEP CRITICAL LABOR RELATIONS REGIONAL OFFICE BASED IN BUFFALO – SENATOR PUSHED TO ENSURE UPSTATE NY WORKERS & BUSINESSES WOULD NOT LOSE IMPORTANT ACCESS TO CENTRALLY- LOCATED WNY REGIONAL OFFICE
In July, When NLRB Discussed Potential Consolidation of Buffalo and Pittsburgh Regional Offices, Which Would Have Resulted in Services Moving to Pittsburgh, Schumer Placed Personal Phone Call To Labor Secretary Tom Perez & NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, Urging Them To Keep Critical Services Based in Buffalo
Buffalo Regional Office Covers All of Upstate NY & Moving Services to Pittsburgh Would Have Led to Case Load Backups, Delays In Investigations, Union Elections & Rulings; Schumer Said Move to Pittsburgh Would Have Severely Inconvenienced Labor & Business in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, S. Tier
Schumer: NLRB Regional Office Will Now Remain in Buffalo
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, after his push, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has abandoned plans to consolidate its Buffalo Regional Office with the Pittsburgh Regional Office. In July, Schumer made personal phone calls to both Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce urging them to reconsider this proposal, which would downgrade the Buffalo Regional Office to a Sub-Regional Office and move some services, including direct access to the Regional Director, solely to the Pittsburgh Regional Office. Schumer said he is pleased both Secretary Perez and Chairman Pearce have heeded his call to keep the NLRB Regional Office in Buffalo, as it will now continue to provide the same level of services, which are critical to businesses and labor groups in Western New York, Rochester-Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Southern Tier. Schumer also wrote a letter to Pearce in June when word of this proposal first came to light.
“This is a huge win for workers and businesses in Western New York, Rochester and the Southern Tier. Keeping open the NLRB Regional Office in Buffalo is great news for businesses and labor across Upstate since it is so critical in resolving labor issues and helping the regional economy run smoothly. A move to Pittsburgh would have been disastrous, and I am pleased that Secretary Perez and Chairman Pearce have heeded my call to abandon this proposal,” said Schumer. “Businesses and labor groups alike can breathe a sigh of relief that we are keeping this crucial resource in Buffalo where it belongs. Not only will this office better serve workers and businesses all across the state, but the decision to keep the office in Buffalo will help keep the case-load down so residents of Western New York – and al across Upstate – who rely on this office can be better served.”
“We thank Senator Schumer for successfully defending the rights of the millions of working men and women served by the Buffalo Regional Office,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “The proposed consolidation would have had a detrimental impact on the ability of hardworking New Yorkers to join together and collectively bargain. This victory will allow union members and those who want to become union members to have a strong voice on the job. ”
“The NLRB provides a vital service to WNY organized labor,” said Dick Lipsitz, President of the Western New York Area Labor Federation. “Senator Schumer has always recognized the contributions of organized labor to our local economy, and to our community. Working men and women have always had a friend in Senator Schumer, and we thank him for his tireless efforts to save the Buffalo office of the NLRB.”
The proposed consolidation would have made the Pittsburgh Regional Office the primary office for Western Pennsylvania, a portion of West Virginia, as well as Upstate New York. Currently, the Buffalo Regional office is the primary regional office for the entire State of New York, with the exception of the New York City Metropolitan area. In July, Schumer urged Labor Secretary Perez and NLRB Chairman Pearce to reject this proposed consolidation, saying that it would lead to delays in investigations, decisions, enforcement and elections; would likely diminish the resources available to labor and management in New York State; and would make it difficult for workers and businesses to participate in hearings due to it now requiring out-of-state travel. Having direct, in-person access to a Regional Director, Schumer said, is critically important for labor and management across the state, particularly during emergency situations. For example, when an injunction is needed, it is the Regional Director that files the injunction and attorneys on both sides of any labor dispute would be likely to want to argue their case in person. Having a Regional Director based solely out of the Pittsburgh office would have made it harder for unions and employers to gain access to the Regional Director both due to distance and due to the increasing caseload that would occur as a result of the consolidation.
NLRB Regional Offices conduct elections, investigate charges of unfair labor practices, and protect the rights of workers to act together. They are a critical resource for workers and businesses across the country. This potential consolidation, however, threatens to weaken the Buffalo Office and make it more difficult for labor and management across the state to get access to the tools and resources they need. Over the summer, due to the recent departure of the Pittsburgh Regional Director, the NLRB did a review of its needs and concluded that the next step it should take is to consolidate the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Regional Offices. In July, however, Schumer cited a number of different factors as to why this would hurt New York State, and is urging NLRB to abandon its plan.
Schumer argued that it did not make sense to shift responsibility to the Pittsburgh Office, especially during this time of flux, when Buffalo already has in place experienced management, including a Regional Director and Regional Attorney. In addition, Schumer noted, locating the Regional Office in Pittsburgh would have placed it at the extreme end of the area it covers, inconveniencing staff, as well as the labor and management representatives that come to the NLRB to resolve disputes.
During his phone calls with Perez and Pearce, Schumer also noted that the area currently served by the Buffalo Regional Office Region is incredibly spread out – the territory includes Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, Poughkeepsie, Utica, Ithaca, Watertown, Cortland, Corning, Massena, Plattsburgh, Olean, Jamestown, and Dunkirk – and moving operations to Pittsburgh would make the region even more dispersed. Schumer argued that preserving the Regional Office in Buffalo would be more efficient, from both a time and cost perspective, to service all population centers.
Lastly, Schumer argued that there was a greater need for Buffalo to be a Regional Office location than Pittsburgh due to the fact that there are more union-represented private employees in Western New York – approximately 14.5 percent of the private sector employees in the Buffalo area, for example, are union represented and in need of these kinds of services, while only 7.5 percent of private sector employees in the Pittsburgh area are union represented.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s original letter to NLRB Chairman Pearce in June 2014 appears below:
Dear Chairman Gaston Pearce,
I write you today to urge the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reconsider its decision to consolidate the Buffalo Regional NLRB Office with Pittsburgh’s, and to demote the Buffalo office to a sub-regional office. This is a step toward weakening the office that is charged with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices throughout most of New York State. This consolidation is particularly concerning as it would mean that in emergency situations it would be significantly harder to find solutions to union problems. The Buffalo NLRB serves many areas across New York State including Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghamton, Poughkeepsie, Utica, Ithaca, Watertown, Cortland, Corning, Massena, Plattsburg, Olean, Jamestown, and Dunkirk.
As you know, the regional offices have the authority to conduct elections for labor union representation. Western New York has a greater proportion of union represented employees than Pittsburgh. For example, 14.5% of the private sector employees in the Buffalo area are union represented, while in Pittsburgh only 7.5% of the private sector employees are union represented. I urge the NLRB to maintain the status of Buffalo as a regional office, ensuring that key leadership stays in New York State. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and I look forward to working with you to quickly resolve this situation.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator