FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
NLRB Watch: Collusion Investigations & Another Union Nomination
Because there are several significant things going on with President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, rather than doing several posts, the following is a summary of the more important issues this week:
Barking Up The Wrong Tree on Boeing Issue?
When the new four-year contract extension between Boeing and the Machinists union was ratified earlier this month, part of the agreement was that the union would withdraw its complaint with President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board over the opening of the company’s non-union facility in South Carolina. As is fairly common in unfair labor practice cases, once the Charging Party (the union in this case) withdrew its charge, the NLRB dropped the matter.
The fact that the NLRB dropped its complaint against Boeing has fueled speculation that the NLRB and the union were colluding all along.
While collusion between the union and the NLRB is certainly possible, the NLRB’s dropping of the complaint against Boeing is hopefully not the basis for the investigations that are being called for by Senator Graham [R-SC] or Congressman Issa [R-CA].
Moreover, what investigators will likely find is that which has already been publicly acknowledged from the outset of the Boeing case: The NLRB had attempted to broker a settlement between Boeing and the IAM prior to the Board’s complaint. Ultimately, when the NLRB could not broker a settlement, it filed its complaint. Again, like as in the IAM’s withdrawal of the unfair labor practice charge against Boeing and the NLRB’s subsequent withdrawal of its complaint against Boeing, this is normal NLRB procedure.
If you’re wondering why the effort is being made here to clarify what is routine at the NLRB, it is this: Is it worth wasting Congress’ time going on a wild goose chase over an issue that is now resolved?
If, indeed, Congressional investigators are looking for collusion between the NLRB and a union (or unions), the likely area where it might be found would be in the area of the rule making on the “ambush elections.”
The NLRB spent months on drafting the rules. How much, if any, assistance, advise or ‘nudging’ did the NLRB get from its friends at the AFL-CIO or Change-to-Win federations? How many e-mails, telephone calls or meetings (if any) took place between NLRB staff and union officials or agents? Were certain Democrat congressional staffers involved?
Of course, Freedom of Information Act requests could be made by any group or individual for information like that, as was the case when Cause of Action obtained e-mails that indicate the union extremists at the NLRB may have broken federal law in internal e-mails. However, since collusion is already being looked into by Congress, why not go to where it likely exists and still has an impact?
For that matter, the same questions could and should be asked of the Department of Labor and its proposed “persuader” regs. How much union-DOL collusion has there been (if any)?
Obama Nominates Another Union Attorney to Fill SEIU Attorney Craig Becker’s Shoes
With SEIU’s attorney inside the NLRB Craig Becker’s recess appointment about two expire in just a couple of weeks, the NLRB will finally be down to two members—the same as it was when Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats incapacitated the Board in 2007 and 2008—and, therefore, will not be able to issue any decisions or promulgate any new rules.
As a result of the NLRB’s soon-to-be incapacitation, yesterday, President Obama nominated two more attorneys (one directly from the union movement) to fill vacancies at the Board. According to the Washington Post, Obama’s nominations are fueling speculation that he would do another end-run around the confirmation process to recess appoint his nominations.
Obama’s attempt to fill the NLRB posts is fueling speculation that the board members could be included with Cordray in a group of recess appointments. Union officials have been pushing the White House to keep at least three members on the board so it can function next year.
But it remains unclear whether Obama will have a chance to make any recess appointments. For months, House Republicans have convened brief, pro forma sessions whenever Congress is away to prevent the Senate from going into a full recess. GOP lawmakers have pledged to continue the tactic[*].
[* The same tactic Senate Democrats used to block President Bush’s NLRB nominations in 2007-08.]
Like the Becker recess appointment, one of Obama’s nominations on Wednesday drew directly from the union movement. Due to the “independence” of the NLRB, like SEIU-attorney Becker’s conflicts-of-interest, pulling nomination directly from a union is an unusual occurrence in the history of the NLRB and further damages what little credibility the NLRB has beyond union bosses.
From the White House press release:
Richard Griffin, Nominee for Member, National Labor Relations Board
Richard Griffin is the General Counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers IUOE. He also serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, a position he has held since 1994. Since 1983, he has held a number of leadership positions with IUOE from Assistant House Counsel to Associate General Counsel. From 1985 to 1994, Mr. Griffin served as a member of the board of trustees of the IUOE’s central pension fund. From 1981 to 1983, he served as a Counsel to NLRB Board Members. Mr. Griffin holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. [Emphasis added.]
In fairness to Mr. Griffin, with the exception of the occasional violence, occasional mob ties, occasional racism, and occasional corruption, the Operating Engineers is a less radicalized (read: less Marxist) union than Mr. Becker’s SEIU. And, for the most part has not latched onto the effort to strip workers of their right to vote like the SEIU has. So, that’s something…
However, Griffin is a union attorney through and through, which means if he is somehow snuck onto the NLRB, it won’t change the complexion of the current union extremism at the Board.
One other thing that may be worth looking at: While it may just be coincidental, one of the locals of Mr. Griffin’s union is currently being prosecuted for racketeering in a case of extreme union violence involving a man stabbed, hot coffee thrown in the face, and a woman threatened with rape. The local’s law firm is the current NLRB Chairman’s former firm. Whether or not Mr. Griffin had direct involvement in the case is unknown.
Obama’s other nomination, Sharon Block, is an unknown. While she worked at the NLRB under the Bush board, she was also senior counsel for the Senate HELP committee under Kennedy.
From the White House press release:
Sharon Block, Nominee for Member, National Labor Relations Board NLRB
Sharon Block is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. Between 2006 and 2009, Ms. Block was Senior Labor and Employment Counsel for the Senate HELP Committee, where she worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Ms. Block previously served at the National Labor Relations Board as senior attorney to Chairman Robert Battista from 2003 to 2006 and as an attorney in the appellate court branch from 1996 to 2003. From 1994 to 1996, she was Assistant General Counsel at the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from 1991 to 1993, she was an associate at Steptoe & Johnson. She received a B.A. in History from Columbia University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center where she received the John F. Kennedy Labor Law Award.
“Socialism has no place in the hearts of those who would secure the fight for freedom and preserve democracy.” Samuel Gompers, 1918
Cross-posted at LaborUnionReport.com