Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Former NLRB Chairman Liebman Speaks Out

By Edwin S. Hopson

In an interview published on August 29, 2011, in the New York Times, former NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman responded to critics of the Board during her recent tenure.  “The criticism is grossly out of proportion to what has happened and what has been done. We knew we were going to have a boxing match, but we didn’t expect our opponents to come in with a baseball bat,” she said in the Times Reporter Steven Greenhouse’s interview. 

Liebman’s term expired at midnight on August 27, 2011, leaving three members remaining on the five-member Board.

According to the New York Times’ article, “[c]onservative newsletters describe the presidentially appointed board as ‘Marxism on the march’ and its members as ‘socialist goons.’ Business groups denounce it as a handmaiden of union bosses, while Representative Michele Bachmann, a Republican presidential candidate, says she will shut down the agency if elected.”  Greenhouse also reported that South Caroline Senator Lindsey Graham vowed that he would block any future Democratic nominees to the NLRB because of the pending NLRB case involving Boeing’s opening a plant inSouth Carolina.

In the interview, Liebman also was quoted as saying, “[t]he perception of this agency as doing radical things is mystifying to me. The rhetoric is so overheated.” Liebman, who is 61, also stated that “she asked not to be reappointed [to the NLRB] and was ready to move on.”

Greenhouse also interviewed former NLRB Member Peter Schaumber, who was appointed byPresidentGeorgeW.Bush.  Schaumber stated, “[t]here has always been a certain arc in the board’s decisions when control changes between parties. Certain cases would go back and forth, but what we’re seeing now goes well beyond that arc.”