NLRB's Jenkins Sees Labor Field As a 'Microcosm'

"The labor-management relations field represents a microcosm of society," Howard Jenkins Jr., a member of the National Labor Relations Board, said here yesterday. "Getting a handle on labor problems will aid in solving society's problems."

Addressing an advanced labor law class at the Law School, Jenkins said he blames a "lack of unified philosophy" in the administration of labor law for its estrangement from "what is wise, what is sound, and what will prevent continued disputes."

In an interview prior to the class, Jenkins discussed an appeal request recently filed with the NLRB by District 65 of the Distributive Workers of America.

District 65 is seeking to represent clerical and technical workers in the Medical Area and has repeatedly called on the NLRB to grant it a unionizing election in the area.

The union has based its appeal request upon a decision by the board earlier this year in a case involving Columbia University workers.

"Persons not familiar with the board and its work often tend to find precedents where none exist," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he expects the NLRB to resolve the District 65 appeal request "fairly soon, as soon as our research is complete."

"Precedent is important and meaningful," Jenkins said. "But people often think that precedent is being ignored when, in fact, the circumstances in one case are different from those in another."

Although Jenkins said he is not familiar with the details of the Harvard-District 65 case, he said the board generally weighs "a multiplicity of factors" before deciding cases involving the determination of appropriate units for collective bargaining.