NLRB NomineeAlert: Sharon Block & Richard Griffin

On December 15, 2011, President Obama nominated Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“At minimum, the NLRB should be an impartial and respected arbiter. Given the AFL-CIO’s strong support for these liberal nominees, they lack credibility and should be rejected.” -Bill Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government

Sharon Block worked as a senior staffer for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D- MA) on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. During her time on the committee, Democrats spent much of their time unsuccessfully trying to pass card-check legislation. During her previous tenure at the NLRB, she defended the board’s decision to award backpay to an illegal immigrant. The Supreme Court reversed the board’s decision (1).

In another case, she sought to force a trash collection company to recognize a union after an election marred by the NLRB’s negligence and union misconduct. A federal appeals court rejected the NLRB’s petition for enforcement. An NLRB official had overslept and failed to oversee the planned unionization election. The board then arbitrarily rescheduled the election without consulting anyone. The company alleged that some employees switched their votes because they thought that management had caused the delay. Furthermore, it was alleged that a union organizer had promised that those who voted for the union would have their $300 union initiation fees waived. The NLRB refused to even hold a hearing to examine the company’s objections to certifying the union (2).

Richard Griffin has spent decades working for labor. For the past seventeen years, he has served as general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Griffin’s union was criticized by the liberal Association for Union Democracy for trying to limit access to the campaign websites of insurgent candidates for union office.

Due to the size of IUOE locals, websites are the most cost-effective method for spreading campaign messages. The union was trying to force anti-establishment candidates to strictly limit access to their websites to union members and force the union members to reveal their identity to log on to the campaign sites. Of course, forcing members to reveal their identity before viewing insurgent campaign websites could have a chilling effect on the number of individuals willing to log on. The liberal group Public Citizen sued over the rules.

Yet, Griffin brazenly defended the anti-democratic policy. In a letter justifying the new restrictive web site policy, IUOE General Counsel Robert Griffin argues that it is intended to prevent employers from gaining “insight into…[the] union’s sensitive and/or confidential internal workings.” [Mike] Quigley, a union member for 38 years and formerly a business rep and president of the area building trades council, replies that over 2,000 contractors hold membership cards in the local “so everything that goes on is known to them.”

Griffin is anti-business. Near the end of the Clinton Era, Griffin testified before Congress on behalf of the AFL-CIO. He spoke against legislation which would have forced the NLRB and the Department of Labor to pay the legal costs of small businesses when the businesses prevailed in court on National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) issues or Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) issues. He even outrageously claimed that the NLRA “allows employers (and unions) to settle quickly and inexpensively.” He went on to claim that NLRB career employees’ “sole aim is to faithfully execute the law as written by Congress.”

Over the years, the IUOE has had problems with corruption, racism, violence, and mob ties. For example, one union local was under federal supervision for years due to its discrimination against minorities.

A dozen officials and members from another IUOE local are being prosecuted for a decade of racketeering and extortion. They are accused of stabbing a company executive in the neck, throwing hot coffee at non-union workers, threatening to rape the wife of a company official, and causing more than $1 million in damage to construction equipment. Two defendants have already pleaded guilty.

Both NLRB nominees have been endorsed by the AFL- CIO.

Footnotes

  1. Back to postHoffman Plastic
    Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 237
    F.3d 639 (D.C. Cir. 2001)
  2. Back to post NLRB v. Superior of Mo.,
    Inc., 233 F.3d 547 (8th Cir.2000)

    327 N.L.R.B. 248 (N.L.R.B. 1998)

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One thought on “NLRB NomineeAlert: Sharon Block & Richard Griffin

  1. Who needs the nlrb? I am 63 years old with 20 years seniority on my job. I got layed off and the oplepe who are now doing my job are 39 years old, and have 10 years seniority. When I filed with the nlrb in mich. they told me that well the company has that right to do that. Then the union voted to take this case to arbitration . and come contract time the company told the union they did not want this to go to arbitration, so the union dropped the arbitration case 2 weeks before it was to be heard. the company even went so far as to tell one layed off person that he must drop any charges he has against them or he could not return to work. Well the nlrb told me the same thing again. well the union and the company have the right to drop any charges or arbitration. I say who needs the nlrb. why waste the taxpayers money to have these oplepe in office when they hand you this type of decision. please read bad nlrb decisions on the internet and you will see what I am talking about

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