Policy: Labor

Retiring Rep. George Miller was staunch Big Labor ally

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Congress,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,2014 Elections,NLRB

Rep. George Miller announced Monday he will retire at the end of his current term. The California Democrat has long been a staunch liberal of the blue-collar populist variety. He used his position as the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee from 2007-2011 to advocate for higher minimum wages, immigration reform and Big Labor issues like card check.

Miller was not one to let the fact that he lost the gavel in 2011, when the Republicans regained the majority, stop him much, either. As I noted in my very first Washington Examiner column back in July 2012:

As the ranking minority member on the Education and the Workforce Committee, Miller has given Washington's business lobby a lesson in political hardball, forcing two Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board to heel. One of them ended up getting kicked off the board.

"Generally, as the minority party, we have no power," said Aaron Albright, Miller's committee spokesman. His boss, he noted, cannot issue subpoenas or compel witnesses. Which makes Miller's feat all the more impressive. He did it with no institutional leverage, relying instead on sheer aggression. ...

... Last June, Brian Hayes, then the board's lone Republican, claimed his colleagues were abusing the rulemaking process to pass the election rule. Things grew so heated that by October, Hayes threatened to quit, leaving the board without a quorum to act.

When word leaked of Hayes' threat, Miller demanded to know what "inducements" he may have been given to quit by business groups.

It is important to understand that Miller never claimed to have any evidence of any such offer. Nevertheless, he said in a Nov. 23 letter to Hayes, "The open calls to resign, followed by the threats you allegedly made, raise the specter of private requests as well." He demanded "all communications" between Hayes and outside groups.

The NLRB's inspector general's office subsequently opened an investigation in response to Miller. The probe into Hayes ultimately went nowhere, but it apparently resulted in a separate investigation into another Republican boardmember, Terrence Flynn, ultimately forcing him off the NLRB.

Read the whole thing here.

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