FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Big Trouble at the NLRB

by DAVID MACARAY

Many will recall the nasty dust-up at the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) last November, when Republican Board member Brian Hayes, angry and resentful at what he considered too many “pro union” decisions being handed down by the Board, threatened to resign in protest.

While labor observers had always regarded the prickly and humorless Hayes as something of a crackpot, his threat to self-destruct caught everyone by surprise.  Crackpot or not, this was a big-time federal agency, staffed by big-time government bureaucrats…and big-time government bureaucrats simply didn’t do this sort of thing.  They didn’t throw a hissy fit, walk off the job, and end their careers.

But there was ideological method to Hayes’ madness.  Because the NLRB was under-staffed at the time, consisting of only three rather than its usual five members, Hayes knew that if he resigned the Board would be left with only two members, both pro-labor Democrats.  And two members weren’t a quorum.

Quitting and leaving the NLRB with only two members meant, in effect, that the Board would be prohibited from making any important decisions.  No quorum, no authority.  In short, what Hayes was announcing to the world was that he would rather single-handedly cripple this respected federal agency—render it useless—than have it make decisions which, in his view, favored labor rather than management.

In the end Hayes was persuaded to serve out his term.  Presumably, what carried the day was an appeal to naked self-interest.  Committing career hara-kiri would have made him a Washington pariah.  Even fellow Republicans, those who rejoiced in his extreme ideological stance, would have difficulty trusting this odd duck in the future.

Perception is everything.  Shooting at the enemy is a sign of bravery; turning the gun on yourself is a sign of madness.  So Hayes did the pragmatic thing.  He stayed.

Once President Obama got around to appointing a full Board, it looked like this:  Mark Pearce (chairman), Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, all Democrats, and Brian Hayes and Terry Flynn, both Republicans.  That 3-2 split in favor of the party occupying the White House has more or less been standard procedure since the agency was created, way back in 1935 (Note: the NLRB originally had three members; Taft-Hartley expanded it to five, in 1947).

So, given that one of the NLRB’s two Republicans has already embarrassed, if not disgraced himself, and is maintaining a low profile, quietly licking his wounds, how has the other Republican—the new guy, Terry Flynn—fared so far?  Answer:  Very poorly.

Flynn has been found guilty of leaking confidential and privileged information.  Although officially appointed a member of the Board on January 9, 2012, Flynn had previously served as chief counsel to Board member Peter Schaumber, beginning in 2003.  Schaumber was a vehemently anti-labor Republican and a former advisor to Mitt Romney.

According to the NLRB Inspector General, Flynn passed confidential information about on-going NLRB activities—including pending cases and attorney-client privileged information—to two former Board members who, according to investigators, were looking to sabotage the NLRB.  Flynn has confessed and already resigned his $155,500 a year job, effective July 24 (he has recused himself from all agency business until then).

There’s already casual talk about criminal charges being filed against Flynn.  Congressman George Miller (D-Calif) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have hinted that they may hold committee hearings.  In truth, it’s highly unlikely Flynn will ever be indicted, much less convicted.

Republicans don’t view this sort of corruption as “illegal,” not when it’s aimed against organized labor.  To Republicans, organized labor is so rotten, so plainly evil, it deserves every bad thing that happens to it.  Crushing America’s unions is as noble an act as thwarting a child molester.  You’ll do anything you can stop such a thing.  That’s how intensely they despise organized labor.

So much hatred directed toward something as well-meaning and salutary as a workers collective isn’t just disappointing, it’s disturbing.  Considering the lengths to which these groups are willing to go to crush the labor movement, it’s downright scary.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net


David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail