The PJ Tatler

Is the NLRB Inspector General Investigating the Board's Lone Republican Member?

The framing of this Politico story on the National Labor Relations Board is…curious. The board has three members, two Democrats and one Republican. The Republican, Brian Hayes, has been the subject of a great deal of speculation over whether he might resign to stall the board’s recent actions. The NLRB is supposed to be a fair broker between employers and labor but in the Obama years has become notorious for tilting hard in favor of Big Labor. Four major NLRB actions — its lawsuit against Boeing for building an aircraft assembly plant in right-to-work South Carolina, its “snap elections” ruling which would significantly shorten the time between the beginning of a unionization to workers voting on it, its moves to push “card check” that would end the secret ballot in unionization votes, and its ruling allowing “micro unions” to form even in workplaces where a majority of workers oppose unionization — taken together, heavily favor unions and disfavor employers, and significantly damage right-to-work protections in the 23 states that have passed them.

One of the board’s two Democratic members is Craig Becker, a former associate general counsel at the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), one of the largest unions in existence. President Obama recess appointed Becker to the NLRB once it became clear that his activities at the SEIU made his Senate confirmation a dead letter. Note how the Politico’s Tim Mak frames what happened next.

One of the two Democratic members of the NLRB, Craig Becker, had his Senate confirmation shot down in early 2010, forcing the Obama administration to recess-appoint him in March 2010.

That’s simply not true. No one “forced” “the Obama administration” to recess appoint Becker. President Obama made the choice to recess appoint Becker, though he did not survive the Senate confirmation process. Obama could have appointed someone else who could survive confirmation, but chose not to.

So Obama gets a Big Labor lawyer on the board that’s supposed to moderate labor law disputes. Also during the Obama years, former SEIU head Andy Stern has been the most frequent visitor to the White House, and was appointed by President Obama to the debt commission, giving Stern and the SEIU significant influence over core domestic policy. And the NLRB during these years has tilted hard in favor of Big Labor. So it’s fair to wonder, and possibly worth investigating, the possibility of collusion between the White House, the SEIU, and Mr. Becker.

But apparently that is not what the NLRB’s inspector general may be investigating. Politico’s story runs with the possibility that the IG is investigating Hayes, the lone Republican on the board. For what? For the possibility that some people outside the board may have suggested that he resign to deny the board its quorum, and halt its ongoing rulemaking.

What’s to investigate? Suggestions that Hayes resign have been all over the news for months. There’s nothing secret about any of that. It’s also no secret that Becker’s term is about to expire, so the board won’t have a quorum anyway. And Hayes says he isn’t resigning.

IG’s as a rule don’t confirm or deny the existence of any investigation, but the Politico story quotes Democrat Rep. George Miller as pushing for one and quotes NLRB IG Dave Berry as being “very concerned” about the allegations concerning Hayes (who isn’t resigning). So, basically, Politico’s story amounts to running interference for the Democrats as the NLRB comes under increased scrutiny and its IG may be working behind the scenes against the only Republican on the board. Could Politico not find one Republican to weigh in on the NLRB’s actions? If public statements and a blog post at Red State urging Hayes to resign can factor into the IG’s decisions, perhaps he should look into Politico’s biased reporting while he’s at it.