Most folks aren’t sure what the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) does. But this quiet federal investigative and judicial agency can influence the job standards of almost every worker in the United States.
The NLRB oversees workers’ efforts to form, or dissolve unions. It limits employers from threatening to fire workers for supporting unions, or for collectively complaining about working conditions. A labor-favorable NLRB can allow tens of thousands of workers to successfully organize and strike for higher wages. A worker-unfriendly NLRB can and has stripped work place rights, such as the use of job site Email, from thousands of workers.
Trump, of course, appointed a lawyer from a viciously anti-worker law firm to head the NLRB. The lawyer, William Emanuel, worked from the Los Angeles offices of Littler, Mendelson, Fastiff, and Tichy, the largest anti-union law firm in the world. Emanuel had personally helped over 100 companies ranging from Nissan to McDonald’s to evade unionization.
Emanuel promptly displayed his lack of ethics by petulantly participating in appeals of NLRB decisions in which his law firm had represented the employer during administrative hearings. Emanuel’s sketchy antics meant the NLRB had to drop a case in which Emanuel had improperly participated.
Despite the Inspector General’s report that complained of “a Serious Flagrant Problem..”, regarding Emanuel’s refusal to recluse himself, Emanuel exposed himself to yet another conflict of interest, when he voted on an NLRB settlement with McDonalds earlier this month, even though the Littler firm represents McDonald’s and many of its franchises.
Although the Littler firm represents bosses against workers around the world, its competitors consider them the”K-mart” of the legal profession. Unions have called Littler, Mendelson, and Fastiff “Hitler, Mussolini, and Fascist” for decades.
While jealousy and bitterness certainly fuel much of the rancor aimed at the Littler firm, the firm itself has erred in many cases, according to court filings. Several court cases accuse the Littler lawyers of fraud, malpractice, deceit, and perjury.
A November, 2019 court filing in a Texas asserted that Littler Mendelson, on behalf of their client New Tech, botched a disclosure during the discovery phase of a law suit. The Littler firm carelessly provided the plaintiffs with the names of scores of additional workers, previously unknown, who were eligible for back pay for overtime work for their client.
The plaintiffs promptly added those newly “discovered” workers to their class action lawsuit for overtime pay. NewTech fired the Littler firm and is suing them for malpractice, and the return of $244,000 in legal fees.
Courts in Illinois and Philadelphia have recently sanctioned the Littler firm for “bad faith” court filings and untrue depositions.
The appointment of a Littler Mendelson attorney to the National Labor Relations Board is yet another example of the Trump administration scouring for the least competent appointee available to these important federal government positions.
Disclosure: I fought for unions and workers against the Littler’s firm’s clients on countless occasions since the late 1970s. The firm got me fired from my teamster truck driving job. I later got them fired from a $300,000 Postal Service legal contract. I will hate Littler with a white heat until my last breath.