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State bar is NLRB-exempt
April 08, 2006 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

National Labor Relations Act Section 2(2) exempts political subdivisions from the NLRB's jurisdiction. Is the State Bar of New Mexico one of these? Yes (2-1).

State Bar of New Mexico (NLRB 03/24/2006).

The question is slightly more complex than one might think, simply because of the way the New Mexico State Bar is organized and operated.

It was originally established by statute to operate as an agency of the New Mexico Supreme Court. In 1978 the legislature revoked its statute, and the Supreme Court adopted a rule "continuing" the state bar, which then was organized as a non-profit corporation.

The NLRB split 2-1 along party lines. The two Republicans (Chairman Battista and Member Schaumber) found that the state bar is exempt because it was created by the state to constitute a department or administrative arm of the state government. They thought it was especially significant that the Supreme Court of new Mexico has the final say on almost everything the state bar does.

Member Walsh thought the focus should be more on the day-to-day operations, and the fact that the New Mexico Supreme Court has little or no control over personnel and labor relations issues.

My view:

  • This decision is an example of how the NLRB can split along political party lines.
  • I wonder why this case (a matter of first impression for the Board) was decided by a panel of three instead of the full Board. Perhaps they didn't think it was important enough.

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