How Things Work at the MLRB
The Maine Labor Relations Board consists of a small, primarily professional, staff that provides direct services and supports a contingent work force of per diem people. The board staff consists of 5 individuals.
The 9 members of the Labor Relations Board are gubernatorial appointees, who are confirmed by the Legislature. The 9 members of the State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation and the members of the Panel of Mediators (currently 9) are direct gubernatorial appointees. All of these individuals are compensated almost exclusively through user fees.
- Representation Cases:
These cases are initiated by the filing of a petition for unit determination or for unit clarification and/or a petition for election. Upon receipt of a unit petition, a board attorney contacts the parties, explains relevant precedent and explores the possibility of getting agreement to resolve the issue. If no agreement on the unit is reached, an evidentiary hearing on the petition is conducted by a different board attorney, who has no knowledge of the settlement discussions. Formal written unit reports, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, are issued in litigated cases. Such reports are subject to appellate review by the Labor Relations Board in a formal, quasi-judicial proceeding, based on the record, including a verbatim transcript of the initial proceeding before the staff attorney. After an appropriate bargaining unit has been established, the board will conduct a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of the employees voting desire to be represented by a bargaining agent for the purposes of collective bargaining. There are no fees involved in representation matters other than for appeals to the Board.
- Prohibited Practice Cases:
These cases are initiated by the filing of a complaint. The complaint is reviewed for legal sufficiency by the executive director. If the complaint is insufficient, the executive director may issue a notice of insufficiency permitting the complainant to amend the complaint within 15 days or face dismissal. Sufficient complaints are scheduled for prehearing conference before one of the neutral members of the board, who attempts to clarify the issues, identify relevant witnesses and documents, and explore the possibility of settling the dispute at the prehearing conference. Unsettled cases are then heard by a 3-member panel of the Labor Relations Board, who are assisted by a staff attorney. The board receives evidence and argument in a formal, quasi-judicial hearing. The board deliberates over the merits of the case and a formal, written opinion, including relevant findings of fact and conclusions of law, is prepared by the staff attorney at the direction of the board. The draft decision is circulated among the panel members, who either agree with it or suggest modifications. The staff attorney also drafts any dissenting opinions. Staff attorneys represent the board in the courts in appeals of the board's decisions.
- Dispute Resolution Services:
Upon receipt of a request for mediation, fact finding, or contract grievance arbitration services, a member of the Panel of Mediators, private fact finders, or a Panel of the State Board of Arbitration and Conciliation is assigned, as appropriate, to provide the requested services directly to the parties.
- Administrative Services:
The Board's administrative staff person collects user fees from parties who utilize the various per diem services, disburses the revenues to the various board and panel members, and performs the necessary accounting functions associated with the operation of the special revenue account for this purpose. Consistent with the quasi-independent status of the agency, the executive director is responsible for preparation and management of the agency's budget and direction, supervision, evaluation and performance of human resources functions for the board's staff.