In news that got virtually no attention, President Obama appointed Michael Hayes on Aug. 12 as director of the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, which enforces union disclosure and financial reporting. That is, it helps expose fraud and corruption in labor unions.

The appointment generated little attention because the administration apparently put out no public announcement about it (at least, I have not been able to find one).

The only official announcement appears to have come from Hayes's previous employer, the University of Baltimore. If it wasn't for the blog DC Employment Law Update, Hayes' new job might have slipped completely under the radar.

Who is Hayes? Prior to being picked by Obama, he was associate professor at the University of Baltimore's law school. Before that, he was a union lawyer. He was also the co-editor (with Robert Pleasure) of the Campaign Guide: Organizing the Construction Industry. The book is a how-to manual published by the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department in 2004.

According to BAC Local #7, a New York/New Jersey union, the Hayes-Pleasure book offers a variety of tips on how to organize a workplace, including covert strategies such as "salting."

That is the practice of sending union agents to seek a job at the workplace for the sole purpose of pro-union agitation. As even the local notes, the practice is of dubious legality:

"The practice of salting has generated a fair amount of controversy over the years. Employers and their cohorts in Congress have argued that salting is meant to harass non-union companies, increase their costs, and make it difficult for them to operate. Their argument is that salting should be considered a crime."

Nevertheless, it is currently allowed by the National Labor Relation Board.

Hayes has called for bending the rules in favor of unions in other ways. In a 2003 law review article, he called for removing a prohibition on unions being able to offer workers benefits during an organizing campaign.

Allowing that would be tantamount to making it legal for unions to buy votes, but Hayes argued that the prohibition "limits [workers'] ability to make a fully informed and well-reasoned choice in representation elections."

This is the fellow who will now be managing the OLMS's mission of setting the "standards for the reporting and disclosure of certain financial transactions and administrative practices of labor organizations and employers; the protection of union funds and assets; the administration of trusteeships by labor organizations; and the election of officers of labor organizations."

For previous examples of the President Obama weakening Labor Department oversight of unions see my earlier reports here and then here.

Hat tip: