Ethics violations? Business as usual at the NLRB

Posted: Sep 26, 2012 12:01 AM
Ethics violations? Business as usual at the NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is accustomed to a “by any means necessary” approach. That’s how they’ve tackled issues like “ambush” or “quickie” elections, which was since overturned by a federal judge and the formation of micro-unions, which is operable today. So, is it really surprising that the NLRB’s lead attorney is in hot water over ethics violations?

While working on a case involving Wal-Mart, Lafe Solomon, the acting general council of the NLRB, held $18,000 of company stock in the company – a clear conflict of interest and a violation of the Board’s code of ethics. The Wal-Mart case involved the company’s social media policy, and, though determining the policy was “overly broad,” Solomon directed his staff to settle the claim without making it public. Ultimately, Solomon revealed his financial stake in Wal-Mart and requested a waiver to handle the case, which was ultimately denied.

These findings come from a report issued by the NLRB’s Inspector General David Berry. The report reveals that Solomon’s waiver request was “misleading,” while also charging that his colleagues at the NRLB failed to stop him from breaking the rules.

Mr. Solomon himself has frequently put the needs of Big Labor ahead of workers. He targeted the Boeing Company last year due to its plan to operate a factory in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. Solomon also sued Arizona and “threatened” other states that required a secret ballot in union elections.

But this culture in favor of special interests, which is perpetuated on the part of government bureaucrats, shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has watched the NLRB as of late. For instance, former Board Member Craig Becker refused to recuse himself from matters involving his former employer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), despite a pledge to do just that when decisions were “directly and substantially related.” Since then, Becker has left the NLRB to, you guessed it, return to work for a prominent labor union – this time the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Solomon’s ethics violations – as confirmed by the inspector general – are likely to spark scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said, “Mr. Solomon should know […] enough to know when to recuse himself from a possible conflict of interest between his own finances and his work.”

Will Mr. Solomon survive this scrutiny? Perhaps, but perhaps not. But it is hard to believe that whomever the Obama Administration finds to replace him – should Solomon decide to leave – will be much different. In the end, the NLRB will continue to repay Big Labor bosses at the expense of American employees and employers unless the Congress takes action once and for all and shines a bright light on their actions.