For labor relations practitioners who are seasoned enough to remember practicing under the Clinton NLRB, most would not consider Clinton’s NLRB as anything other than pro-union. From 1994 through 1998, the NLRB was headed by William Gould IV, a Stanford University professor, author, as well as the great grandson of an escaped slave.
Like today, in the 90s, the Clinton NLRB was a source of partisan bickering, as it was also under Presidents Reagan and G.H.W. Bush, as well as G.W. Bush.
It was during the Clinton NLRB that union extremist, former Teamster attorney and current NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman became a member of the Democrat-controlled NLRB.
Similar to today as well, labor relations practitioners often found themselves waiting for each new decision that the NLRB would issue to determine how it would affect labor-management relations.
Although the Clinton NLRB’s divisiveness was mild in comparison to the job-killing agenda of the Obama NLRB’s radicalism, understanding a little bit of the partisan history of the NLRB is helpful in knowing why, in light of the recent NRLB attack on Boeing, former NLRB Chairman Gould’s comments with regard to the Boeing dispute are stunning.
Bill Gould has some advice for the labor movement: Turn back. Turn back before it’s too late. What prompts his suggestion is a case involving Boeing’s plan to move some production of its 787 airliners to South Carolina, a right-to-work state, from Washington state. The union in Washington protested the move, and the National Labor Relations Board has taken up its complaint. Republicans immediately pounced on the case as evidence of the Obama administration’s business-unfriendly attitude—and even Gould, who served on the board in the Clinton administration, is mystified by the NLRB’s actions.
“The Boeing case is unprecedented,” he says. “I agree with much of what this board has done and is likely to do, but I don’t agree with what the general counsel has done in the Boeing case. The general counsel is trying to equate an employer’s concern with strikes that disrupt production and make it difficult to make deadlines—he’s trying to equate that with hostility toward trade unionism. I don’t think that makes sense.”
Given William Gould’s pro-union proclivities, his comments are a remarkable rebuke toward the Obama NLRB’s attack on Boeing.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776