NLRB Member Griffin Named as Defendant in Racketeering Suit

Richard GriffinThe National Labor Relations Board ought to be about the last place to find anyone with a history of union corruption. But Richard Griffin (see photo), an NLRB member and former general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), may be the exception. Griffin last October was named as a defendant in a federal racketeering suit filed by 10 members of IUOE Local 501 in Los Angeles. The complaint alleges Griffin, during his tenure representing the international union, was complicit in a “scheme to defraud [the local] out of revenue, cost savings and membership.” Dozens of union members, the suit charges, engaged in kickbacks, bribery, threats and extortion. Griffin purportedly was involved in embezzlement and a cover-up. His personal attorney calls the action “frivolous.” Yet the evidence isn’t so easily ignored. And it’s been getting lots of attention these past few weeks. 

Richard Griffin right now isn’t in …

Will DOE’s Fisker Doubts Take Down Its Battery Supplier Too?

A123 logoAfter luxury electric automaker Fisker announced 65 layoffs and a work stoppage from the refurbishment of a former General Motors plant in Delaware earlier this week, NLPC wondered whether its battery supplier and business partner A123 Systems would be harmed also.

Now Wall Street analysts are wondering the same thing, and the beleaguered lenders at the Department of Energy must be deeply concerned about what they will do next. As Forbes reported yesterday, the close ties between the two speculative companies could produce “two Solyndras for the price of one.”

To recap, Fisker is the California company that was awarded a $529 million loan from the Recovery Act, in addition to $9 million from the state of Delaware and $850 million it has raised privately. After it received $193 million from the loan through May 2011, DOE halted payouts because Fisker failed to attain milestones in the delivery …

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Top Ten logoUnions for many years have been a highly reliable segment of the Democratic Party Left. Yet this perhaps no more was this true than in 2011 – and with good reason. The year began with the Republicans holding a nearly 50-seat edge in the House of Representatives following the GOP’s smashing wins in the November 2010 midterm elections. Avoiding legislative process became a top priority for organized labor. Union officials and organizers at every opportunity created and exploited populist rage toward the wealthy, now redubbed “the 1 percent,” playing a key role in shutting down the Wisconsin State Capitol, organizing Occupy Wall Street protests, and conducting corporate harassment campaigns. Taking the high road, unions also heavily relied on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enact what amounted to stealth legislation. 

In the NLRB, at least, unions had a true ally. By law, the normally five-member NLRB must consist of …

Sen. Hatch Seeks Answers from NLRB’s Becker on SEIU Manual

Becker photoIt’s almost given that a Democratic member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has at least some background as a union lawyer. Craig Becker, who long had been associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) before obtaining a recess appointment to the board by President Obama in March 2010 following a Senate GOP filibuster, fits the pattern. But he also may have gone that extra mile, helping to prepare an SEIU manual on how to intimidate employers. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wants to know more. On September 12, Hatch wrote a letter to Becker asking him to clarify what role he had, if any, in drafting the document. As Becker is up for Senate approval for a full-term appointment to the (normally) five-member NLRB, his response – or lack of it – may affect the course of board rulings for years to come. 

On paper, …

Sen. Hatch Unveils Employee Rights Act to Reform Labor Law

Hatch photoIt’s been more than 50 years since Congress passed a major piece of legislation to curb union privileges. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah (see photo), thinks that’s far too long. On August 2, Sen. Hatch, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, along with freshman Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced a far-reaching reform bill, the Employee Rights Act (H.R. 2810, S. 1507), to align labor law with emerging workplace realities of a market economy. The bill would shield individual workers from the arbitrary power of union leaders, long accustomed to equating their own interests with those of American workers as a whole. Hatch admitted that passage won’t be easy. “I fully expect the unions and their supporters to come out against to Employee Rights Act, and characterize it as a radical, anti-union bill.” 

With the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA) as the lodestar, …

Issa: Obama Abetting Union Corruption

Rep. Darrell IssaFrom literally day one, the Obama administration has made clear its intent to back off from investigating corruption within organized labor. At least one member of the House of Representatives has expressed concern over this direction in policy. On June 23, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a press release highlighting his objection to the ongoing rollback of union financial reporting requirements by the Department of Labor (DOL). His intent was to publicize a letter he’d sent the previous day to Denise Boucher, policy and disclosure director of the department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). 

Issa’s letter was at once gratifying and belated. On January 20, immediately after the Inauguration, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, signed a memorandum advising all federal agencies to extend by 60 days the effective date of final regulations not yet published in …

Senator Hatch Seeks Restored Labor Department Oversight; Skewers Obama, Solis

Hatch photoThe Department of Labor under President Obama appears to be doing everything it can to accommodate union interests, especially when it comes to investigating corruption. But a few members of Congress are openly objecting. Among them is Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Hatch on April 22 issued a rebuke to a decision by the department the previous day to roll back new rules designed to make union officials more accountable to the workers they represent. “It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is choosing a time of financial crisis to cut investigations into financial corruption solely because it may reside in its own politically constituency,” he said.

Hatch, formerly chairman (and still a member) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, was referring to a DOL decision to rescind new regulations to increase the level of detail in LM-2 and LM-30 annual financial reporting forms. The regulations, finalized …