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U.S. Department of Labor Inducts Senator Robert P. Griffin and Former NLRB Board Member Howard Jenkins Jr. into the Hall of Honor
WASHINGTON, DC – During a special ceremony today at the U.S. Department of Labor, Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella spoke at the induction of Senator Robert P. Griffin and Former NLRB Board Member Howard Jenkins Jr. into the Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor and the 60th anniversary of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).
“Today we celebrate the legacies of Senator Robert P. Griffin and Mr. Howard Jenkins Jr. by inducting them into the U.S. Department of Labor Hall of Honor,” said Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella. “From the Senate and the National Labor Relations Board, Senator Griffin and Mr. Jenkins have been stalwart defenders of workplace rights and freedoms. It is an honor to be a part of enshrining their legacies alongside other accomplished individuals who have advanced opportunities and protections for American workers.”
“Since Congress enacted the Landrum-Griffin Act 60 years ago, it has promoted union democracy and financial transparency in order to strengthen unions and protect workers’ rights,” said Director of the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) Arthur Rosenfeld. “As Director of OLMS, the agency that administers and enforces the LMRDA, I am proud that the Department is honoring these two leaders for their vision in drafting and enacting this law.”
Senator Griffin and Howard Jenkins played an instrumental role in the enactment of the LMRDA, which is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards. The LMRDA is an important piece of legislation that allows workers to participate in the operations of their labor organizations without fear of corruption or intimidation. The act ensures union financial integrity, requires democratic standards for conducting union officer elections, and encourages union transparency through reporting and disclosure requirements. OLMS takes pride in carrying out its mission to administer and enforce this important law.
The Hall of Honor was established in 1988 to honor Americans whose distinctive contributions have elevated working conditions, wages, and overall quality of life for American families.
Robert Paul Griffin was born November 6, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan. The son of an auto factory foreman, Griffin spent his youth working on auto assembly lines. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943 to 1946 before graduating from Central Michigan University in 1947. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1950. Griffin practiced law in Traverse City, Michigan, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives as the representative for Michigan’s Ninth Congressional District in 1956.
During Griffin's time in the House, national concerns arose about union corruption and organized crime as the result of highly publicized hearings in the Senate’s “McClellan Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management.” The McClellan Committee's findings prompted a call for congressional action. Griffin worked across the aisle with a fellow member of the Education and Labor Committee, Representative Phil Landrum (GA). Legislation introduced by Griffin and Landrum gained widespread support on Capitol Hill and from the Eisenhower Administration. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, also referred to as the Landrum-Griffin Act, was signed into law on September 14, 1959. This landmark legislation promotes democracy and combats corruption within unions through requirements such as annual public financial disclosures and periodic secret ballot elections.
Griffin served five terms in the House of Representatives prior to his appointment to a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1966. He won reelection to the seat in 1972. From 1966 to 1968, Griffin sat on the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, the authorizing Committee of the LMRDA and the predecessor to the current Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. From 1969-1977, Griffin served as the Senate Minority Whip. Following his time in the Senate, he returned to Traverse City to practice law until his election to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1986. He served on the Court until his retirement in 1994. He died in 2015 at the age of 91.
Howard Jenkins, Jr.
Howard Jenkins, Jr. was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1915. He attended the University of Denver for both undergraduate (1936) and law school (1941). During World War II, Jenkins worked for the Denver War Production Board before his appointment as the Regional Attorney for the National War Labor Board in 1943. In 1945, he became the Chief Regional Enforcement Officer at the National Wage Stabilization Board working under then-Chairman W. Willard Wirtz. From 1946 to 1956 Jenkins served on the faculty of Howard University's Law School, focusing on labor law and administrative law.
In 1956, Jenkins joined the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of Labor as a Special Assistant, assisting in drafting the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). Because of his involvement in the drafting of the landmark legislation, Jenkins was chosen as the Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Regulation at the Bureau of Labor Management Reports, and in 1962 was promoted to Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Regulation at the Bureau of Labor Management Reports, which oversaw compliance of the LMRDA.
President John F. Kennedy appointed Jenkins to the National Labor Relations Board in 1963. Jenkins, the first African American to serve as Board Member at the NLRB, was sworn in on August 28, 1963, the day after the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. Jenkins was later reappointed to the Board by Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, and served as a board member for 20 years. Among his most notable contributions to the development of our nation's labor law, Jenkins helped establish the board's policy of refusing to help labor organizations that practiced racial discrimination. He passed away in 2003 at age 87.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.