Inspector General Finds GOP NLRB Member Sought Work With Anti-Union Law Firm

Mike Elk

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last year, Republican National Labor Relations Board member Brian Hayes threatened to resign over how the federal agency deliberated over proposed rules that speed up workplace union elections. If Hayes had resigned before the board had voted on the new union election rules, no vote would have been possible. (The rules were approved late last month, as I reported, and they take effect in April.)

An NLRB Inspector General report (PDF link) released last week found that at the time Hayes was considering whether or not to resign, he sought employment” with the anti-union law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which opposes the rule. A lawyer from the firm wrote to Hayes, If you ever decide to resign, we’d like to talk to you.” 

The Board plays a critical role in adjudicating and administering the rights of employees and employers under our nation’s labor law and Board members must be free of coercion and undue influence when executing their responsibilities,” said Congressman George Miller (D‑Calif.). Therefore, I respectfully request that the Department of Justice further investigate the circumstances surrounding the employment discussions between Member Hayes and Morgan Lewis and any other issues the Inspector General brings to your attention related to his investigation.”

In addition to the finding that Hayes had contact with law firms opposed to the union election rule, the NLRB Inspector General also found that several statements Hayes made to Congress about the way the rules were being made were false. The NLRB Inspector General states in its report: “

We also determined that, although the letter sent by Member Hayes to the Committee on Education and the Workforce communicates his opinion regarding the rule making process, it contained inaccurate statements of fact… Overall, the letter to the Committee creates the impression that Member Hayes and his staff were excluded from the rule making process. That impression is not completely accurate.

Hayes’ letters about not being properly included in the rule-making process of the NLRB are important since the Chamber of Commerce and other anti-union groups — some represented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius — cited them in a lawsuit brought against the NLRB regarding the newly enacted union election rule. 

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Mike Elk wrote for In These Times and its labor blog, Working In These Times, from 2010 to 2014. He is currently a labor reporter at Politico.
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