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Setting the Record Straight on NRLB Chairman's Retirement, New Position

December 20, 1987

Your Dec. 8 item concerning my departure from the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB Chairman Dotson Retiring, to Join Law Firm") contained several errors:

The board has not made any ruling that "allowed managers to question workers about union activities." What we did was return to a long-standing rule providing that, in the case of questions or conversations between supervisors and employees, we will examine all the surrounding circumstances to determine whether such conversations may reasonably be considered coercive. That is, any question concerning union sympathies will not be considered per se coercive. Several courts had found the per se approach unacceptable. The "all the circumstances" approach has been universally approved by the courts.

The board's decision in which I participated concerning bargaining units in the health-care industry, the St. Francis Hospital decision, did not give "hospitals and other health-care institutions wide latitude in determining the appropriate 'bargaining unit' as a way of defeating unions in representation elections." Bargaining units are determined by the board, consistent with the law and defined policy, subject to ultimate review by the courts. The board has always determined bargaining units by applying its rules and policies on a case-by-case basis. I believe the congressional admonition to avoid proliferation of bargaining units within health-care facilities is best served by continuing the traditional analysis of the facts in each case.

The descriptions of the other decisions mentioned were incomplete in ways that made them substantially inaccurate and inflammatory.

You also misspelled the name of the law firm I am joining. It is Keck, Mahin and Cate.

It is not true that I "originally had wanted reappointment." When I accepted this appointment for one term, I was staying in government longer than I had planned to when I joined the Administration in 1981. I have consistently made it clear that I intended to serve only one term. My decision had nothing to do with confirmation prospects. I was not contacted about the article. It is clear that the reporter relied on the usual unnamed sources who successfully use the press to advance their point of view.

Decisions in which I have participated have been affirmed by the courts at the highest rate in the board's history, about 30% higher than the agency's historic average.

DONALD L. DOTSON

Washington

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