The NLRB gets its authority from the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The NLRB was originally comprised of three members who served five-year terms, but subsequently was expanded to five members in 1947. Although not mandated by law, it is customary that no more than three of the five NLRB members may belong to the sitting president’s political party at any given time, and the members’ political ideology frequently influences how they approach particular issues.
The NLRB determines whether employees want to be represented by a union in dealing with their employers and, if so, by which union. These are known as “representation cases” or “R cases.” The NLRB maintains certain procedures and standards of conduct that are at least intended to assure free and fair elections. The NLRB also investigates and remedies unfair labor practices by employers or unions. These are known as “unfair labor practice (ULP) charges” or “C cases.”