Labored Relations
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Labored Relations

Law, Politics, and the NLRB—A Memoir

By William B. Gould IV

A personally revealing, politically astute memoir by a former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.





A personally revealing, politically astute memoir by a former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.

"This book is about the relationship between law, a quasi-judicial administrative agency, and politics, in the volatile arena of labor policy and the balance of power between labor and management.... It is about the rule of law and the role of labor law in a modern economy."—from the IntroductionFrom 1994 to 1998, William B. Gould IV served as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. One of only three NLRB Chairmen to come from an academic background, he quickly realized that he was an outsider in a very political world. In this compelling memoir, Gould describes the tribulations of trying to assure impartial administration of federal labor laws while faced with a hostile, Republican Congress. He describes his difficult confirmation process and wrenching Congressional hearings, particularly the one over Proposition 226, a ballot initiative that required unions to get explicit authorization from all represented workers prior to expending dues for political purposes. He tells how the behavior of both Board members and members of Congress, guided by self-interest and rigid ideology, contributed to the Board's problems. He also recounts the positive strides the NLRB made during his tenure, despite the turmoil. The book provides an insider's view of what goes on behind the closed doors in our nation's capital, including discussions with members of Congress, the White House, and President Bill Clinton.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262072052 474 pp. | 9 in x 7 in


$46.00 X | £36.00 ISBN: 9780262571555 474 pp. | 9 in x 7 in


  • Gould's spirited defense could not have been more timely, nor more trenchant.

    Joy K. Reynolds

    Monthly Labor Review


  • An inside look at the decision-making processes of one of the country's most important agencies- the difficulties, tensions, and personality clashes.Through all of the turmoil in the National Labor Relations Board, William Gould is clearly his own man.

    Doug Fraser

    President Emeritus, United Auto Workers, and Professor of Labor Studies, Wayne State University

  • Labored Relations is an impressive and important statement by a distinguised Professor about how politics has crippled the NLRB. Professor Gould, from Standford Law School, suffered as a Democrat with a Republican Congress just as prior Republican administrations have suffered with Democratic Congresses. His articulate diary which aptly records his travails during his confirmation and tenure shouldd convince everyone that there must be a better way.

    Roderick M. Hills

    Esq., Hills Enterprise, Washington, DC, and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission

  • William Gould has written a very interesting and thoughtful account of his experiences as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. This is a very valuable book for all who are concerned about labor politics and labor policy in the United States.

    Ray Marshall

    LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin, andformer Secretary of Labor

  • This memoir is about much more than the National Labor Relations Board. With an informative, easy-flowing narrative style, Gould exquisitively weaves ideological, scholarly, and empirical perspectives into a forecful, gripping, and at times disturbing story of what drives individuals to and away from politics, government, and public service.

    Lucius J. Barker

    William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

  • This is a splendid memoir. The crashed and bangs that occur when distinguished private citizens bring their new ideas to government are revealed here in explicit and painful detail. It's a sobering and all-too-common tale of a good man caught in the crossfire that passes for politics in contemporary Washington. What William Gould learned, and what he tells here, are lessons that students of modern government and those contemplating their own sojourn in federal service would do well to study.

    G. Calvin Mackenzie

    Distinguisged Presidential Professor of American Government, Colby College

  • What William Gould learned about law and politics in modern Washington, every American should know. For those who wonder how elections matter to working men and women, this superb book is required reading.

    Reed Hundt

    former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and author of You Say You Want A Revolution: A Story of Information Age Politics