National Labor Relations Board
Elizabeth Leemon is working as a summer intern with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Region 19, Seattle. Elizabeth's responsibilities will include helping clients with workplace grievances by identifying and prioritizing important facts and presenting these facts to her supervisors along with recommendations for action.
July 1, 2013
It is amazing that I have been working as an intern at the National Labor Relations Board for only four weeks; it feels like I have been here for much longer. I have already experienced so much and look forward to the rest of my time here. One of the main reasons I wanted to intern at the NLRB was because I had only a cursory working knowledge of labor law, but was very interested in the subject. Now, thanks to the help of my supervisors and other board agents, I understand the basics and have begun to appreciate the complexity of labor law.
During the last month, as a board agent, I have been assigned multiple cases to work on. All of these cases are classified as "Duty of Fair Representation" and although this can have different meanings depending on the context, in all of my cases, the employee has filed a grievance with their union, and the union has decided not to represent them, or has failed to act on their grievances. For my cases I have taken their affidavits, which is an informal deposition and the backbone of the case, contacted charged parties, and will begin to write the final investigative report (FIR) once all the evidence has been submitted.
Writing an affidavit on the spot requires transforming someone's words into concise, coherent text. This exercise has really helped strengthen my writing skills. I have had the opportunity to strengthen my research skills and writing skills, receiving feedback from my supervisor and other attorneys, which has been very helpful.
In addition to working on my cases, during the first week I helped with a union election by counting ballots, learning the specific procedure necessary in order to ensure fairness, and understanding how NLRB contributed to the whole process by acting as an outside, neutral party.
I helped conduct research for a hearing that took place in the office concerning two unions vying for a particular job position for their members who work in the local ports. There were five parties involved, and after watching the proceedings I had a better understanding of the role the NLRB plays in mediating disputes between different organizations, and how the agency helps to ensure fairness by providing an objective perspective.
The NLRB headquarters in Washington, D.C. also organized a summer intern series where all the regions participate in lectures through videoconferencing. Part of the series are lectures given by administrative law judges speaking on a range of subjects, including protected concerted activity, courtroom conduct, collective bargaining, and the ins and outs of litigating an NLRA case. This has been an interesting aspect to my internship. Before I started I did not know that the D.C. office would be conducting these sessions, but have been pleasantly surprised at the content and depth of knowledge of the speakers, and the contributions made by other interns across the country.
I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to intern at the NLRB this summer and am excited to see what the next month will bring.