Willliam B. Gould IV is the Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Stanford Law School. He served as the Independent Monitor (2008-2010) for FirstGroup, the company that created the Independent Monitor Program discussed in this article. A member of the National Academy of Arbitrators since 1970, he is a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (1994-1998). Prof. Gould expresses his gratitude to Andrew J. Olejnik, a senior associate at Jenner & Block LLP’s Chicago office, who served as a special assistant to Mr. Gould (2008-2010) in his capacity as the FirstGroup Independent Monitor. Mr. Olejnik assisted in the implementation and operation of the Independent Monitor Program and contributed to the preparation of this article. Prof. Gould also thanks Ben Roxborough, Stanford Law School LL.M. 2010 and Mike Scanlon, Stanford Law School, J.D. 2010, both of whom assisted in the preparation of this article.
Facing an aggressive unionorganizing campaign at its U.S. subsidiary, a multi-national company implemented an unprecedented ADR program to address complaints that management violated the company's corporate social responsibility policy and its commitment to the right of employees to associate with a union. The program, known as the Independent Monitor could be a model for other companies.
For decades, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the NLRA, have been ineffective in protecting the rights of employees to associate freely with labor unions. This has led some unions to devise alternative strategies, such as “corporate campaigns,”1 to obtain recognition as a collective bargaining representative for employees.