“Deflategate” and Before

Expert shares insight on five decades of labor law
Thursday, September 24, 2015

William B. Gould LLB ’61, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and current chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, shared his love of labor issues and sports on Wednesday.

“From Automobile Workers and Athletes to Farm Workers: 50 years of Labor Issues,” Gould’s first of three public talks this week, was held in Myron Taylor Hall, Cornell Law School.

Highlighting his love of Cornell, he shared memories of Professor Kurt Hanslowe, a member of the ILR and law school faculties.

“His first year teaching was my first year as a student, and I had the opportunity to write a paper for him about the duty of fair representation,” Gould said.

“I wanted to go to law school because of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ‘separate but equal’ in Brown v. Board of Education declared that system unconstitutional, so I quickly became interested in labor law when I came here.”

Gould came to the attention of Hanslowe by writing his paper on racial discrimination. Hanslowe was impressed with the paper and helped Gould get a job with the United Auto Workers.

Gould also said that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, of the “Deflategate” controversy, owes the court reversal of his suspension to Marvin Miller, former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

“Marvin Miller was the first guy to build professional athletes into a cohesive group.” Gould said. “He negotiated fairly detailed and fairly comprehensive contracts between the players and the owners.”

Success by activist Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers was highlighted by Gould.

“My sons were fairly small in the 70s and never knew what it was like to eat grapes because the union was so successful in establishing a grape boycott. They never had grapes until they were adults,” Gould chuckled.

Law Professor Angela B. Cornell asked Gould about his thoughts on the efforts of the Northwestern University football team to unionize.

“The regional director in Chicago, I thought, wrote a brilliant decision, which outlined in detail what the life of these guys is like,” Gould said. “They do receive compensation through aid and they are, for 50 hours a week for most of the year, under the control of the coaches.”

Gould finished his remarks by praising the current National Labor Relations Board and describing the problems of organized labor.

“As much as I believe more than ever that a democratic system in the workplace is fundamentally important for our society, we are not getting it through these non-union arrangements that have emerged.”

At 4:30 p.m. today, Gould speaks in ILR’s Doherty Lounge on “Labor Law, Politics and the NLRB.”

A 10 a.m. Friday ceremony in ILR’s Kheel Center will recognize Gould’s contribution of his labor board papers to the archive.
At 12:15 p.m. Friday in 105 Ives Hall, Gould and Law School Professor Kevin Clermont will discuss two of their books.

Gould wrote a book based on the diary of his great-grandfather, who was a slave, and Clermont wrote a book about Cornell’s first African-American graduate.

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Law alum visits his archives in ILR's Kheel Center