December 16, 2011
D.C. Circuit Enforces NMB Voting Rule
The D.C. Circuit (2-1), in Air Transport Assoc. v. NMB, enforced the NMB's new election voting rule. As you might remember, that rule gave covered unions a win in an election if a majority of employees voting selected the union, as opposed to the old rule, which required a majority of eligible voters to select the union. The majority deferred to the agency's policy judgment and rejected the argument that the Railway Labor Act's langauge barred the change; indeed, the court repeatedly noted that the act said little on the topic, thereby warranting agency deference. Judge Henderson, dissenting, stated that the RLA's reference to a "majority" of employees selecting a union mandated the previous rule. Interestingly, she even refers to the Chevron "invention"--which seems an odd way of describing a doctrine that a D.C. Circuit judge has to apply in more cases than they can count.
Hat Tip: Patrick Kavanagh & Dennis Walsh
AALS Section on Employment Discrimination and Section on Labor Relations and Employment Law 2011 Newsletter
Attached is the newsletter for the 2012 AALS Employment Discrimination Section and the Labor Relations and Employment Section from Peggie Smith (Wash U) and Deborah Widiss (Indiana-Bloomington). They did a really really great job this year. Check it out!
December 15, 2011
- A union drive in New York to create a pension program for jazz musicians who do most of their work in non-union clubs.
- The effect on NLRB employees from the recent attacks on the agency.
- NLRB publishes special rules covering the functions of the NLRB if/when it drops to two members.
- The D.C. Circuit holds that employees' work stoppage isn't protected by the NLRB because the employer's internal grievance procedure might be interpreted to allow for group complaints--despite the fact that the employer had refused the employees' attempts druign the work stoppage to discuss the termination of a pro-union employee.
Hat Tip: Patrick Kavanagh, Kenneth Shiotani, & Dennis Walsh
December 14, 2011
New NLRB Nominations
Today, the White House made several new nominations, including two new Democratic appointees to the NLRB, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin. According to the announcement:
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.
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.
I don't know Richard Griffin, but I'm well acquainted with Sharon Block. I worked with her during my time at the NLRB's Appellate Court Branch (in fact, she was one of my first supervisors). If she's confirmed--obviously a really big if--she would do a great job. Just as one example, she managed to get wins for the NLRB in the Hoffman Plastics case before both a three-judge and en banc panel of the D.C. Circuit. Short-lived wins, but still impressive given the D.C. Circuit's usual stance on labor matters.
Here's hoping that these two nominees, as well as an additional Republican one, get confirmed sometime soon (if we're dreaming, we might as well go for a full Board). What is left unsaid at this point is whether the President intends to make them recess appointments, assuming that he has the opportunity. Stay tuned.
Hat TIp: Fred Jacob
December 13, 2011
NYU Conference on China's Labor Market
NYU's Center for Labor & Employment Law is issuing a call for interested presenters for its upcoming Research Conference on the Chinese Labor Market. The conference will be at NYU on May 11-12, 2012. Those interested in presenting--and there will be a $1,000 stipend for all presenters--should send a 2-5 page summary of the paper they want to present, among other materials, by Dec. 15 (to get more details, Download NYU China Conference announcement). According to the announcement:, the topics will depend on the presenters, but they hope to get, among other things, empirical work on the following:
- Change and Variation in Wages and Working Conditions
- Migrant Workers' Rights and Working Conditions
- Trends in Labor Unrest and Protests
- Democracy in the Grassroots ACFTU Chapters
- Collective Bargaining and Consultation
- The Impact of International Labor and Global Civil Society