NLRB watchdog 'concerned' by claim that Republican had incentive to quit

The watchdog for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is concerned about accusations that the board’s lone Republican member might have been offered an “enticement” to resign. 

Dave Berry, the NLRB’s inspector general, told The Hill his office is aware of the allegations that the labor board’s lone Republican member, Brian Hayes, might have been offered something of value to leave his position. 

Hayes made a resignation threat in October to Mark Pearce, the board’s Democratic chairman, but has since decided against leaving the board. His resignation would have reduced the NLRB to two members, leaving it without a quorum and unable to render rulings or regulations. That includes a contentious rule that would speed up union elections, which Hayes and many Republicans oppose. 

“We are very concerned about the allegations, and we will take the appropriate steps to address them,” Berry said. 

Berry said if there were “substance” to the allegations, it could warrant an investigation by his office. He would neither confirm nor deny that an investigation is under way.  

“We are aware that there are allegations that member Hayes may have been offered an enticement to resign. If there is substance to such to an allegation, it would be a matter appropriate for an investigation by us and we will act accordingly,” Berry said.

The allegations stem from a letter that Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking member, sent to Hayes last month about his resignation threat. 

“I have read reports of special interest organizations and individuals calling on you to resign precisely to incapacitate the board," Miller wrote in his letter to Hayes. "The open calls to resign, followed by the threats you allegedly have made, raise the specter of private requests as well. I am concerned that any decision to resign prematurely will be the result of objectionable motives or improper influence.”

An open letter from the website LaborUnionReport.com, which was cross-posted on the conservative-leaning blog RedState, has called for Hayes to resign. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has also suggested that Hayes should leave the board. 

Miller asked Hayes for documents concerning his resignation threat, with a deadline of this past Friday.

In a letter obtained by The Hill, Hayes declined Miller’s request for documents.

“Having reviewed your letter I do not understand it to constitute a request from the Committee. With regard to the substance of your letter, as you may now be aware, I have formally announced my decision to remain a Member of the National Labor Relations Board,” Hayes wrote in the Dec. 2 letter. 

Hayes rejected resigning from the board at a public meeting last week on the union election rule.

At the meeting, Hayes voted against moving forward with portions of the proposed union election rule, while his two Democratic colleagues voted for it. The NLRB is now expected to draft a final rule, which will require another board vote.

Republican lawmakers have spoken out fiercely against the proposal. Last week, the House passed legislation that would block the proposed rule.

Unions back the regulation, arguing it would remove delays in union elections. Business groups have lobbied against it heavily, saying the proposal would leave little time for employers to talk to workers about the impact of unionization.