Walker sinks despite anti-union message – By BRIAN MAHONEY 09/14/15, 07:58 PM EDT


Scott Walker became famous for breaking the unions in Wisconsin. But for GOP voters, the issue no longer resonates as it once did.

150914_scott_walker_gty_629.jpg

Scott Walker is doubling down on his anti-union message. But GOP voters don’t seem to be listening.

Walker traveled to union-friendly Las Vegas Monday to inveigh against “big-government union bosses.” He pledged elimination of the National Labor Relations Board. He promised a national “right to work” law freeing workers from mandatory payments to unions that bargain collectively on their behalf. And he said he’d block President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand overtime eligibility to 5 million new workers

“Collective bargaining is not a right,” Walker said. “It is an expensive entitlement.” He pledged “to wreak havoc on Washington.”

For Walker it may be a last stand as his support tumbles from double digits as recently as July to a dismal 2 percent, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday. Walker’s presidential campaign is premised in a large part on the idea that GOP primary voters will flock to a candidate willing to confront and diminish the power of organized labor. Walker aides say his anti-union platform is designed to portray the Wisconsin governor as a politician who can easily translate his statewide successes to the federal government. “He has this record of results,” a senior Walker aide said. “We’re taking that record of results and building on them and showing the American people what it could look like at the national level.”

But one of 2016’s biggest surprises is that the anti-union message isn’t selling, either for Walker or for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another GOP candidate who’s built much of his campaign around his willingness to face down union bosses. Unions don’t seem to loom especially large as a problem to rank-and-file Republican voters. Trump’s economic populism may also be undermining the anti-union message. And with the economy finally recovered from the Great Recession, public rancor against organized labor has diminished.

 

Article continues:

Notorious Astroturf Pioneer Rick Berman Is Behind Business Group’s Anti-Labor-Board Campaign – —By Molly Redden | Wed Mar. 25, 2015 6:30 AM EDT


Washington’s “Dr. Evil” has been working with a group of CEOs to help companies avoid legal liability for their franchisees.

“I’ve worked hard and played by the rules to make my franchise business a success,” Ganahl said in an ad that ran on all three networks, as video showed her fawning over a golden retriever. “Now, unelected bureaucrats at the National Labor Relations Board want to change the rules. As Americans, we deserve better. Tell Washington, ‘No.'”

Bankrolled by a free-market advocacy group called the Job Creators Network, the ad painted a sympathetic picture of a business owner struggling against onerous regulations imposed by the NLRB, the agency that enforces labor law and has long been a conservative target. But lurking behind the anti-NLRB campaign is a notorious PR operative and astroturf pioneer who encourages his corporate clients to “win ugly or lose pretty” and who says he wakes up each morning trying “to figure out how to screw with the labor unions.”

The consultant, Rick Berman, is well known in political circles for funneling anonymous corporate money into vicious ad campaigns attacking various advocacy groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Humane Society of the United States, which he has accused of spending a minuscule amount of their donations on their stated missions. Berman, who heads the DC-based communications firm Berman and Company, typically launches his offensives through a network of front groups. He has used these organizations to fight regulations governing food safety, animal cruelty, workplace safety, secondhand smoke, and even tanning beds, and in the process keeps his corporate funders anonymous.

“We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors,” Berman bragged in an October speech that was secretly taped and shared with the New York Times. “There is total anonymity.” His brash M.O. has earned him a nickname—Dr. Evil—that Berman appears to relish.

Article continues:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/rick-berman-job-creators-network

McDonald’s can no longer hide behind its franchises – By Richard Kirsch, contributor – December 23, 2014, 06:30 am


Last week, the top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made a commonsense decision. McDonald’s is not just responsible for the quality of the burgers and fries its franchisees make. It’s responsible for the working conditions of the people who flip the burgers and fry the spuds.

In rejecting McDonald’s legal fiction that it controls everything important its franchises do except for anything to do with their employees, the NLRB’s general counsel took a small but important step toward reversing the corporate assault on wages.

The general counsel’s ruling came out of complaints by workers who were punished by McDonald’s and its franchises for protesting low wages, as part of the Fight for $15 campaign. It is illegal to retaliate against workers who are organizing to improve their working conditions. The ruling green-lights hearings into 13 complaints of 78 instances of alleged retaliation against workers, by holding that McDonald’s and its franchisees are jointly responsible for the punitive actions.

Of course, McDonald’s — which with a 35 percent return on equity is one of the most profitable big corporations in the nation — and the franchise industry as a whole are crying wolf about the decision, predicting job losses, as every business does whenever it doesn’t like a regulatory decision. But where the business groups are correct is in their statements that if the ruling survives appeals, it will upend regular franchise arrangements and make it easier for workers to organize.

The use of franchises by major corporations to avoid responsibility for the wages and working conditions of their employees is only one example of an economy-wide practice by big business. A separate NLRB complaint highlights another common practice: the use of workers hired by temp services. The labor board is considering a claim by the Teamsters that Browning-Ferris Industries is a joint employer of temp workers who are employed at its recycling facilities.

Another common practice under scrutiny is subcontracting for core parts of a business, as when a federal judge ruled that Wal-Mart was jointly liable for wage theft at Wal-Mart dedicated warehouses run by another company. Big corporations use subcontracting throughout supply chains to avoid responsibility for how workers are paid. Even some hotels are subcontracting housekeeping services.

Corporate strategies to shirk responsibility for their workers’ wages and benefits are a leading reason that corporate profits continue to surge while wages are stagnant. If wages had kept up with productivity during the past 40 years — which is to say, if workers had received a fair share of the wealth they produce — the median income of Americans would be $75,684. That is 46 percent higher than it was last year.

Article continues:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/labor/227936-mcdonalds-can-no-longer-hide-behind-its-franchises

The government may redefine what it means to be an employee — and it’s a huge deal – Updated by Danielle Kurtzleben on December 19, 2014, 3:40 p.m. ET


On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board issued complaints containing 78 charges against McDonald’s. Among those are charges that McDonald’s illegally threatened, fired, and cut the hours of employees who protested its wages.

Unions could score a huge victory from this NLRB decision.

That’s not just significant because it concerns a huge corporation involved in a high-profile fight over wages; it’s a big deal because the NLRB’s general counsel recognized McDonald’s as a “joint employer” of its fry cooks and cashiers, meaning the company is considered the employer alongside the smaller franchises where those people work.

This is just a preliminary decision — sort of like a DA deciding to seek an indictment, as University of California-Irvine law professor Catherine Fisk explained on a Friday press call organized by the fast food workers’ group Fight for $15.

But unions and business groups alike are watching for a potentially more consequential decision, one that could do a lot to redefine who, exactly, employs millions of American workers. That case, known as Browning-Ferris, is expected to be decided at the NLRB any day now.

The Browning-Ferris decision would redefine who technically “employs” many US workers

First, some background: waste management firm Browning-Ferris used Leadpoint, a staffing agency, as a subcontractor at a California recycling plant. The Teamsters union organizing the workers argued that Browning-Ferris and Leadpoint were joint employers. Browning-Ferris disagreed, saying they were not the direct employer. The regional NLRB director agreed, saying Browning-Ferris’ involvement in the lives of these workers was only “routine in nature” and that therefore it was not a joint employer. Now, the national board will either affirm or overrule that.

The browning decision could be “cataclysmic,” according to one attorney

The question, then, is what makes an employer an employer. The current standard is that a secondary company can be judged a “joint employer” if it has “direct and immediate impact” on the worker’s terms and conditions — say, if that second company is involved in hiring and determining pay levels.

In an amicus brief, Meghan Phillips, the counsel for the NLRB general counsel (which is something like a prosecutor’s office, and operates separately from the board itself) argued that this should be changed to a much broader definition: “if one of the entities wields sufficient influence over the working conditions of the other entity’s employees such that meaningful bargaining could not occur in its absence,” then the two entities are joint employers, she says. If you need to be at the table in a labor negotiation, then you’re an employer.

While Browning did not directly hire, fire, or set pay levels for the Leadpoint employees, it did determine the facility’s hours and when overtime would happen, and it also “closely monitor[ed]” the work that was done in the plant, the AFL-CIO argues in its amicus brief.

“What the union says in Browning-Ferris is, ‘Look. we want everybody who controls our terms and conditions of employment at the table,'” says Craig Becker, general counsel at the AFL-CIO and a former NLRB board member.

That standard could mean that many contracting companies and franchisers find themselves designated as joint employers of their contractors’ and franchisees’ employees.

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2014/12/19/7420729/nlrb-browning-ferris-employer

A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense – George Zornick on July 28, 2014 – 2:05 PM ET


Public sector workers rallying in solidarity with Wisconsin workers outside Los Angeles City Hall (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point—but this isn’t just another messaging bill.

The Ellison-Lewis legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to include protections found under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include labor organizing as a fundamental right. That would give workers a broader range of legal options if they feel discriminated against for trying to form a union.

Currently, their only redress is through a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board—an important process, but one that workers and labor analysts frequently criticize as both too slow and often too lenient on offending employers.

If the NLRA were amended, however, after 180 days a worker could take his or her labor complaint from the NLRB to a federal court. This is how the law works now for civil rights complaints, which gives workers the option, after 180 days, to step outside the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission process.

Then, workers would have sole discretion on whether to push a complaint, as opposed to relying on a decision by the NLRB on whether to forge ahead. Workers could also move the process along much faster than the NLRB handles complaints, which can often take years.

Ellison told The Nation that the legislation would also help workers recover more money—the NLRB will award back pay to a grieved worker minuswhatever they earned while awaiting a decision, which can often amount to basically nothing. “[The NLRB] remedy, though useful and very important, and nothing in our legislation changes that, that remedy is considered slow and somewhat inadequate. For some of these union-busting law firms, [they] will say ‘so do it and we’ll just pay.’”

Ellison said he believes the labor movement needs to get back on the offensive. “With the Supreme Court in here, and what they just did in Harris v. Quinnand all the things they wrote about Abood, it’s insane to hope for the best,” he said, referring to the recent decision involving non-union public workers and their fee arrangements with unions. “I mean this Supreme Court is openly hostile to racial justice and worker justice simultaneously. So we better be moving out on both fronts.”

Ellison told MSNBC, which first reported the bill, that he got the idea from a book by Century Foundation fellows Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit, titled Why Union Organizing Should Be a Civil RightThey argue that the First Amendment’s right to free association should clearly include one of the most crucial forms of association—banding together to push back against unfair treatment from employers.

Article continues:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/180792/house-bill-would-make-union-organizing-civil-right

Business groups alarmed by rise of ‘micro-unions’ in workplace – By Tim Devaney – 07/26/14 12:33 PM EDT


Getty Images
The NLRB first recognized the so-called micro-unions in 2011 at Specialty Healthcare, a rehabilitation center, where a group of nursing assistants wanted to organize. Then this week, the labor board endorsed another micro-union, giving a small group of employees at Macy’s permission to organize.Industry groups fear the arrangements could create havoc by forcing companies to bargain with multiple unions at the same work site.

“We are very concerned, because the Specialty Healthcare case, in our view, was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Eric Oppenheim, who owns 18 franchise restaurants throughout Maryland and D.C. “Now, they’re going to target industries that traditionally were very difficult to unionize.”

The rise of micro-unions has all sorts of industries flustered, from restaurants and hotels to grocery stores and manufacturers.

“I think most employers, if they haven’t been approached by a micro-union yet, they’re definitely waiting,” said Amanda Wood, director of employment at the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Speciality Healthcare decision gave unions the ability to, in essence, “gerrymander” a workplace, says Jim Plunkett, director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The problem with Speciality Healthcare is not the smallness of the unions, but the way the lines are gerrymandered within a workplace,” Plunkett said. “They’re allowed to cherry pick the employees in the workplace that they know will be supportive of the union.”

Meanwhile, the remaining employees at a workplace can opt to either form their own separate union, or not join one at all, which employers say makes the collective bargaining process all the more confusing.

Labor unions and public interest groups say micro-unions will help level the playing field for employees, so that those who want to organize can do so.

“In most workplaces, business owners have figured out ways to hijack the collective bargaining process,” said Keith Wrightson, worker safety and health advocate at Public Citizen. “Workers really do not have any place to turn to.”

Employers, on the other hand, “feel like the deck is stacked against them,” said Wood.

Many small business owners say they want to create such a good work environment that their employees don’t feel like they need a union to negotiate for better pay and benefits.

Other employers are planning more strategic attacks on micro-unions.

Michael Lotito, an employment and labor attorney and co-chairman of the Workplace Policy Institute, said employers could protect against micro-unions by merging a store’s different departments so that every worker shares the same responsibilities.

That means at a pizza restaurant, for example, employees would take turns driving the delivery car, making pizzas, serving customers, and cleaning the tables, Lotito said.

Read more: http://thehill.com/regulation/labor/213408-business-groups-sound-alarm-about-rise-of-the-micro-union#ixzz38fo7YYcu

Deregulators Lost at the Supreme Court When It Comes to Blocking Presidential Appointees Aziz Haq 06.26.14


Chip Somodevilla/Getty

While the Court reprimanded Obama for the timing of three recess appointments, it scaled back an earlier ruling that would’ve let Congress gum up the regulatory state.
The champagne corks should be popping, and the bubbly flowing, in federal agencies and the White House today.  In a case called Noel Canning v. NLRB(PDF), the Supreme Court ratified a broad view of the President’s power to make “recess” appointments without Senate confirmation.  While it invalidated three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), it dramatically scaled back an earlier ruling that would have limited the president far more.

But the decision’s real impact isn’t on the balance of powers between Congress and the executive. Rather, the big losers today are regulated entities trying to stay the hand of federal administrative agencies. The real losers, that is, are the proponents of deregulation that have sought since the early 1980s to gum up the regulatory state.

Noel Canning comes out of the dysfunction surrounding appointments to the five-member NLRB.  Senate nominations and confirmations to the Board, which used to be considered in bipartisan bundles, had ground to a halt in the teeth of Republican opposition. This left the Board unable to resolve labor disputes. Similarly, Republican opposition to a presidential nomination threatened to derail the fledgling Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and has derailed theElection Assistance Commission (EAC).

Such opposition, of course, reflects anti-regulatory sentiment—and not Republican legislators’ view of the Constitution. Over in the House, John Boehner is (without discernable irony) threatening to file a constitutional challenge Obama for not “faithfully executing the laws”. Of course, Republican opposition to Richard Cordray’s appointment, to NLRB appointments, and to Election Assistance Commission appointments are important impediments to executing the law—which is of course their point.

Article continues:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/26/deregulators-lost-at-the-supreme-court-when-it-comes-to-blocking-presidential-appointees.html

Northwestern’s Football Players Don’t Have to Their Union to Change Football Forever- By Jordan Weissmann APRIL 25 2014 12:48 PM


Northwestern University quarterback Trevor Siemian runs as he looks for a receiver against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ryan Field on Oct. 5, 2013, in Evanston, Illinois.
Northwestern University quarterback Trevor Siemian, who plans to vote against joining the union, runs a play against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Oct. 5, 2013, in Evanston, Illinois.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

T

 

This morning, the Northwestern University football players cast their votes on whether to form a union. It’s a potentially historic moment in this history of NCAA sports, given that collective bargaining would officially lay waste to the idea of college athletes as amateurs. The outcome is very much up in the air—we probably won’t know the final result for months. But even if players turn down the union, merely winning the right to vote for one could change college sports for good.

Jordan WeissmannJordan Weissmann

Jordan Weissmann is Slate‘s senior business and economics correspondent.

When Northwestern’s players won the right to organize last month, the university promptly began a “vote no” campaign, which the New York Times called “a textbook case of how to aggressively battle a union.” Head football coach Pat Fitzgerald has led the defensive effort, which seems befitting for a former linebacker. A generally beloved figure in the locker room and on campus, he has been meeting with players to “educate” them about the apparently dreadful repercussions of bringing union reps onto campus. Publicly, he’s simply argued that the school can address athletes’ concerns, like better medical care, without collective bargaining.

 “I’m incredibly proud of the courageous nature of stepping up,” he said at a press conference. “I just do not believe this is the mechanism to do it. We do not need a third party in between our players and our coaching staff, our athletic department, and our university.”

Translation: “Good effort, guys, but wrong play.”

So far, Fitzgerald seems to have won at least a few of his athletes to his side. Most important among them, perhaps, is quarterback Trevor Siemian. “We filed for employee cards (Jan. 28), but that doesn’t mean a union is the right avenue,” Siemian told reporters. “Especially at Northwestern, where most guys on the team agree we have been treated very, very well. I’m treated here far better than I deserve.”

Meanwhile, Kain Colter, the Northwestern senior and former starting quarterback who has led the organizing drive, has said he’s “confident” the union will win.

So far, only a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Northwestern’s players are employees who can choose to unionize. The national five-member NLRB board in Washington, D.C., is reviewing the university’s appeal, and until it renders a decision, which could take months, the union votes will be impounded, locked away in secret.

Which is why even though today’s big event was on campus in Evanston, Illinois, the real action in this struggle will take place in Washington. The NLRB could put a stake in the unionization movement by overruling its regional office and declaring players are not, in fact, employees. Technically, its ruling would only cover private colleges, because public schools are governed by state labor laws, but state labor boards often take cues from the NLRB.

If it affirms the decision, however, things get interesting.

Should the football team approve a union, Northwestern will likely refuse to bargain with it, which would set up a federal court challenge to settle the question of whether players are actually employees once and for all. But if the players vote against organizing, the unionization movement will still come away with a huge prize. Namely: leverage.

As long as the NLRB says that college football players are employees who can unionize—and given the labor-friendly nature of the board under the Obama administration, there’s a very good chance it will—every single private college in the country with a big-time sports program will have to worry about the threat of an organizing drive down the line. If state labor boards follow the NLRB’s lead, the heat would be on large public universities, too. That alone should push schools to make greater concessions on issues like health, safety, and making sure scholarships cover the full cost of living.

“Simply by filing the representation petition, those young men have improved the lot of all big-time college athletes,” Northeastern University School of Law professor Roger Abrams told me. “Colleges and universities and athletic departments will be much more attuned to making sure their athletes are treated fairly. Because if they’re not treated fairly, the next group can vote [for a union].”

Rather than think of the Northwestern union drive less as a single win-or-lose contest, then, it’s better to consider it as one prong of the multifront legal battle to reform the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The body is already facing two major antitrust suits, one of which has made it past the preliminaries and is scheduled for trial. When basketball star Shabazz Napier told reporters, just minutes after helping the UConn Huskies win a national championship title, that he had gone to bed hungry many nights for lack of cash, the uproar pushed the league to finally allow schools to provide unlimited meals. The NCAA is also moving toward a governance model it says will pave the way for major conference schools to provide more generous scholarships, insurance, and medical care to players.

Even while he railed against the possibility of players unionizing earlier this month, NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged that the status quo was untenable. “I think most of the membership recognizes we’re at a fork in the road and some of these things must change and we need to do it rapidly,” he said.

Win or lose in Evanston, if Northwestern’s players can prevail in Washington, the pressure will be greater than ever.

Would March Be Less Mad If Players Were Paid? – by ALAN GREENBLATT March 29, 2014 5:37 AM


Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at Mar 29, 2014 6.18

 

Would March Madness be terribly different if the players were paid?

Probably not. The college basketball tournament might become more professionalized, but it wouldn’t look much different from what we’re seeing right now.

“I don’t see it changing one iota,” says ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas.

Last week’s National Labor Relations Board ruling that football players at Northwestern University should be able to form a union triggered dire warnings from the NCAA that the ideal of the student-athlete would be forever corrupted if players were treated as employees and paid as such.

But for fans, the reality is that the game wouldn’t change. The real question is how the pie would be sliced, with players suddenly demanding a share of the take.

“It’s another NCAA scare tactic,” says Bilas, who played basketball at Duke University. “They’re saying it’s going to crumble when they talk about giving the athletes a penny over their expenses, and it’s wrong.”

The Game’s Already For Sale

It’s hard to imagine March Madness getting any more commercial.

The tournament is already a billion-dollar event, with as many Burger King and AXE body wash commercials as television can carry.

“Any time we cover an NCAA tournament event, the NCAA will not allow you to sit courtside with beverages that do not have the label from one of their sponsors,” says Kenneth Blackistone, a sportswriter who teaches journalism at the University of Maryland.

Fans would still be able to buy jerseys emblazoned with team names and the numbers of their favorite players — with those players maybe seeing a cut.

It’s possible that ticket prices could go up, but that’s been happening for years anyway, as coaching salaries have soared into the multi-million-dollar range.

And it’s not like the pro version of the sport will suddenly be dominated by big-money programs — the Stanford Facebookers or the Kansas Koch Brothers — or at least no more than it’s dominated by big money programs already.

As things stand, plenty of players from top programs go pro early. Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that University of Kansas center Joel Embiid will enter the NBA draft this year as a freshman.

“Paying them could keep them in college longer,” says Rick Eckstein, a sports sociologist at Villanova University.

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/29/295847503/would-march-be-less-mad-if-players-were-paid

For Labor Board’s Top Attorney, Life-Changing Tenure In GOP Crosshairs Posted: 01/17/2014 7:29 am EST | Updated: 01/17/2014 1:55 pm EST


Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. The NLRB said in an April 20 complaint that Boeing Co. built a nonunion assembly plant for its new 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, South Carolina, in retaliation for work stoppages by unions at its Seattle-area production hub. Photographer: Sonja Y. Foster/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. The NLRB said in an April 20 complaint that Boeing Co. built a nonunion assembly plant for its new 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, South Carolina, in retaliation for work stoppages by unions at its Seattle-area production hub. Photographer: Sonja Y. Foster/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In August 2011, Lafe Solomon received one of the least desirable overtures in modern Washington: a subpoena from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee. Solomon was the top lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board at the time, and he’d infuriated Republicans with a complaint he pursued against a particularly powerful manufacturer and political donor, the Boeing Co.

As Solomon noted, it was the first time in 70 years that Congress had subpoenaed the general counsel of the labor board, an independent agency that enforces labor law on unions and employers. Solomon had read the congressional report from the last time it had happened, way back in 1940, when anti-union conservatives wanted to destroy the then-young agency and roll back New Deal labor reforms.

“The parallels are striking to me,” Solomon said in a recent interview at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, reflecting on his turbulent term as general counsel, which ended last summer. “If you read the committee report from 1940, and the report from the Issa committee, they’re really quite similar in rhetoric.”

In Solomon’s more than three years as the NLRB’s quasi-prosecutor, he oversaw thousands of complaints that were issued against businesses and unions. But it was his move on Boeing that most enraged conservatives. Solomon accused the manufacturer of breaking labor law by trying to establish a production line for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina. Based in part on statements by a Boeing executive, he said the move was retaliation against the company’s unionized workers in Washington state for having gone on strike in the past.

The complaint spurred congressional hearings, inspired Republicans to try to defund and shut down the labor board, and, less directly, helped prompt a showdown in a divided Senate over the filibuster. Solomon was summoned for a flogging by House Republicans at a special field hearing in South Carolina, and he and the NLRB at large were blasted by the likes of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as out-of-control job killers. (The American Bar Association disagreed, eventually naming Solomon labor attorney of the year.) Solomon watched as his work became a campaign issue in the presidential election.

“I certainly couldn’t have anticipated any of it,” Solomon said, noting that the Boeing charge originally came out of a regional office, before he assumed the general counsel post. “But I just tried to keep my head down and do the job and keep morale as high as we could facing these uncertainties.”

A career employee at the labor board for more than three decades, Solomon said he never coveted the agency’s prosecutorial post. He was asked to do it, he said, and he assumed he would serve merely as a placeholder until President Barack Obama nominated someone else for a complete term. But three months turned into three years, even though Solomon never even got a vote in the Senate on his nomination. For all his time, he was technically “acting” general counsel.

Solomon said he never really expected confirmation. He had rankled the business lobby and many conservatives even before the Boeing blowup, when he threatened to sue four states over their constitutional amendments guaranteeing secret-ballot union elections. Supported by businesses, the amendments were an attempt to preempt the Employee Free Choice Act, proposed federal legislation that would generally make it easier for workers to unionize. In the eyes of his critics, the move cemented Solomon as a union-favoring activist.

One of the less credible claims was that Solomon was doing the bidding of Obama. Politically speaking, the Boeing complaint and other purportedly pro-union actions by the labor board brought the White House little more than grief. Solomon insisted he never had any contact with the White House, noting that the NLRB is an independent agency. “I am sure that there were certainly people in the White House that would have preferred me not issuing the Boeing complaint,” he said dryly.

The Boeing case was eventually settled short of a board decision, as most such cases are.

Article continues:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/nlrb-lafe-solomon_n_4612852.html?utm_hp_ref=politics