Newly confirmed member of the National Labor Relations Board Kent Y. Hirozwa was among the labor leaders at Suffolk Law’s 40th Robert Fuchs Labor Law Conference on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Co-sponsored by Suffolk law, the NLRB, the U.S. Department of Labor and various New England bar associations, the conference attracts labor and employment law practitioners from throughout New England.
The first presentation was by Hirozwa, who was confirmed to the NLRB this past summer as part of the deal heading off the so-called “nuclear option.” Hirozawa discussed how NLRB members reach decisions and noted some issues on which practitioners could anticipate new developments.
Patricia Smith, the solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor spoke about what she termed the “epidemic” of employers violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. She also outlined new strategies being utilized by the Department of Labor, noting several cases utilizing those strategies that were prosecuted in New England under the direction of Regional Solicitor and Conference Co-chairman Michael Felsen.
The first session closed with the presentation of the Fuchs Award for outstanding performance in the Labor Law course to third-year student Daniel Silva, Jr.
Following a networking break, there was a lively panel discussion moderated by Professor Michael Harper of Boston University Law School. Megan Gunther from the U.S. Department of Labor and Michael Fee of Ropes & Gray LLP discussed new developments and trends under various whistle blowing statutes, focusing primarily on the Sarbannes-Oxley Act and the changes resulting from the enactment of the Dodd- Frank Act.
Thereafter, Jonathan Hiatt, the executive assistant and chief of staff to the president of the AFL-CIO and Robert Morsilli from Jackson Lewis LLP discussed anticipated developments from the first fully confirmed NLRB in the past 10 years. There was considerable discussion and disagreement over the board’s proposals to expedite the representation election process and the role of the National Labor Relations Act in the non-union workplace.