Labor Law Symposium to feature Teamsters president

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News

Just because you attended a symposium on labor law a couple years ago doesn't mean that you're current on the subject.

"The laws are shifting faster than you can imagine," says National Labor Relations Board Regional Director Terry Morgan. "For example, the rules involving employees and social media are evolving month to month. Things that were OK only a year ago are coming under scrutiny."

Educators, government officials and labor leaders will gather for the 21st annual Bernard Gottfried Memorial Labor Law Symposium on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Wayne State University Law School.

Alumni, students and those interested in labor law are invited to attend the symposium from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at the law school, 471 W. Palmer St. in Detroit.

The symposium honors Bernard Gottfried (1925-1992), who taught at Wayne Law and was director of Region 7 of the National Labor Relations Board from 1973 until his death.

"Bernie Gottfried was so well thought of, when he passed away, people on staff and people in the private sector thought it would be a nice gesture to create a symposium in his memory," says NLRB Regional Attorney Dennis Boren. He says that the event has grown steadily since its inception.

"I've only been involved in organizing the event since 2006 when we had 96 attendees. Last year in 2012 we were up to 123. We try to make it all-inclusive with attorneys and non-attorneys including HR people, arbitrators and business agents. We're a neutral agency, so we reach out to both the management side and the labor side."

Boren stresses that many people and organizations help make the event a success.

"I'll also put in a plug for the State Bar Labor and Employment Section," he says. "They're a sponsor and they absorb the cost of 20 law school students who attend."

Wayne Law Interim Dean Jocelyn Benson and Morgan, regional director for Region 7 of the NLRB, will deliver the opening remarks.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa will deliver the keynote address.

Hoffa has served as Teamsters union president since March 1999 and served as an attorney for the union from 1969 to 1993. He has a degree in economics from Michigan State University and a law degree from University of Michigan Law School.

"For our luncheon speaker, we try to get people who would draw attendees," Boren says. "Recently we had publisher Keith Crain. I've been after Hoffa for years and really made a pest of myself. I got turned down a couple years in a row. We're looking forward to his perspective on what's going on in the labor movement in general."

Panel discussions will include "Dues Checkoff, Witness Statements, Employee Discipline, What's Next? - Bargaining Obligations under the Current Board"; "Stare Decisis v. Partisan Politics, What Controls in Board Decisions?"; "Board Decisions on Employee Work Rules"; and "Enhanced Remedies in Board Orders."

"Our primary purpose with the event is educational," Boren says. "We always try to have handouts for the attendees so that, when they leave, they take something useful with them."

Proceeds from the symposium will fund educational programs and labor studies at Wayne Law.

The registration fee for the symposium is $100, which includes all sessions, presentation materials, breakfast and lunch. Students, NLRB staff and government employees can register for a reduced cost of $25. The deadline for registration is Friday, Oct. 4. For more information, call the Wayne Law Dean's Office at 313-577-6497 or register online at

Published: Thu, Sep 26, 2013