The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the key agency regulating employer-union and union-worker affairs in the United States, may soon be taking a more conservative line.
President Reagan will be appointing two new members, and probably designating a new chairman, for the five- member board. A struggle is shaping up between conservatives, especially those in business, and unions over what names will go on a list of nominees for the appointments, which are expected to be made shortly.
The day after his inauguration, Mr. Reagan withdrew a recess appointment by President Carter of John C. Truesdale to a five-year term on the NLRB. Mr. Truesdale resigned immediately, but he merely moved from one NLRB office in Washington to another -- becoming executive secretary of the board, a job he had for five years prior to his 1977 appointment as an NLRB member. The move surprised and angered conservative critics of the NLRB.
Earlier, another board member, John A. Penello, announced that he was retiring with the start of the new administration after eight years on the board and 43 years of NLRB service.
In addition to the two board seats, Reagan has the option of designating a new NLRB chairman, John F. Fanning, a Democrat who is chairman now, would remain on the board if the President replaced him.
Business groups have complained that the board under Mr. Fanning -- with a membership of three Democrats, one Republican, and one independent -- has followed a pro-union course for the past three years. They expect, under the Reagan administration, a shift to a more conservative approach on labor matters, beginning with the designation of a new NLRB chairman.
However, moderate Republicans warn that the naming all-out conservatives to the NLRB posts would alienate organized labor when the White House and administration are se eking union cooperation.