President Joe Biden nominated a lawyer who currently works at a firm notorious for union-busting to serve in a powerful regulatory position on Wednesday.
Biden nominated Susan Harthill, an attorney at the Washington firm Morgan Lewis, to serve on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). Harthill was hired as a partner at Morgan Lewis in 2018 after serving as the Department of Labor’s deputy solicitor of labor for national operations and is currently a senior consultant at the firm.
“Susan Harthill represents employers in the full range of employment law and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) matters, with a focus on counseling, compliance, litigation, and audits and investigations,” the White House said Wednesday.
“Ms. Harthill advises employers on statutory and regulatory compliance and conducts trainings, including harassment and discrimination training,” it continued. (RELATED: Amazon Warehouse Workers Overwhelmingly Reject Unionization Bid, Organizers Cry Foul)
The OSHRC is an independent agency tasked with issuing citations or penalties to employers following an investigation into potential violations of workplace safety code. The commission currently has two members.
Morgan Lewis is a well-known firm known for its background in union avoidance, according to a Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) report. The firm advises clients on how to “proactively identify risks and develop strategies and solutions to help employers avoid litigation and other employee disputes, including those that involve unions or organizing campaigns,” its website said.
Harry Johnson, a partner at Morgan Lewis and former National Labor Relations Board member, is leading Amazon’s legal fight against a unionization attempt at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.
Amazon workers at the Bessemer warehouse overwhelmingly rejected unionization in April, but an NLRB hearing officer recommended last month that a new election take place, saying the company used intimidation tactics to sway the employees. Amazon’s distribution of anti-union materials to workers suggested Morgan Lewis had advised the company prior to the election, according to LAWCHA.
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