DC LERA History

The Industrial Relations Research Association was established in 1948. In December of that same year, local members founded the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the IRRA with William Morris Leiserson as its president. In 2005, IRRA became the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA).

This is a background story on Roosevelt’s appointment of Dr. William Leiserson to the NRLB.  A decade later, Leiserson would become the first president of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of Industrial Relations Research Association.  A 1939 Time Magazine article about Dr. William Lieserson, the first president of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the IRRA/LERA.

Time Magazine
Monday, May 08, 1939

National Affairs: Two Nice Men

When William Morris Leiserson was arbitrating labor rows in the disputatious garment industry, he used to say: “I give the decision to one side, but I give the language to the other.” Last week the President nominated diplomatic William Leiserson to the National Labor Relations Board.

The man chosen to sweeten NLRB is a merry, contemplative cherub of 56. Now grey, paunchy and averse to all forms of physical effort, he worked his way through the University of Wisconsin by cooking flapjacks for the One-Minute Coffee Shop in Madison. Between cakes & coffee he absorbed the principles of economics and labor from Wisconsin’s famed Professor John R. Commons. Later, he taught economics at Antioch College where his students called him “Uncle Billy.”  He has been a careerist in mediation and arbitration—for NRA, for the petroleum industry, finally (in 1934) for the railroads as chairman of the National Mediation Board.

So good and fair at his calling is William Leiserson that he is often asked to mediate outside the railway field. In his last such important chore, ruling that messenger boys come under the Wage & Hour Law, he did not forget to butter up big Western Union and other complaining companies with kindly words.

NLRB and the Wagner Act sorely need a butter patter. Up to now, NLRB has applied a drastic statute so literally that it has accumulated a fine roster of enemies. By his own inclination and by instruction from the President, Dr. Leiserson proposes to continue literal enforcement of collective bargaining, minus the harsh words now characteristic of NLRB. If his placating presence fails to smooth down A. F. of L., Business and hostile Congressmen, the Administration may even enlarge NLRB, or as a last resort sacrifice Chairman Warren Madden and co-Member Edwin Smith in order to save the Wagner Act from ruinous amendments.

Dr. Leiserson replaces Donald Wakefield Smith who has had a recess appointment since his term expired last August. To replace William Leiserson on NMB, the President chose another man small in stature, large in repute: David John Lewis, the learned, lovable, little Maryland ex-Congressman who was used last year in a bitter and stupid effort to purge Senator Millard Tydings (TIME, Sept. 12, et seq.).* As a worthy favorite at 70, Davey Lewis was considered too old for arduous duty on NLRB, just right for the easier routine of a railway mediator.

*Senator Tydings muttered that 70-year-old Mr. Lewis is not capable enough for even the Mediation job, but he was not expected to fight confirmation. How capable Millard Tydings is was suggested by news last week from Pennsylvania. That commonwealth deducted $750,000 from the $7,457,798 net taxable estate of the late Henry W. Breyer (ice cream) to pay fees to counsel who saved the estate $6,447,988 in Federal estate taxes. Paid to Millard Tydings’ law firm: $140,000.


DC LERA Past Presidents

1948-49 William Leiserson (Dec.)
1949-50 Ewan Clague
1950-51 Oscar Smith
1951-52 John D. Stewart
1953-54 Nelson M. Bortz
1954-55 Louis G. Silverberg
1955-56 John Herling
1956-57 Joseph L. O’Brien
1957-58 Nathaniel Goldfinger
1958-59 Sar A. Levitan
1959-60 Bernard Cushman
1960-61 Jacob Seidenberg
1961-62 Herbert Liebenson
1962-63 Seymour Brandwein
1963-64 Joseph P. Goldberg
1964-65 Ogden W. Fields
1965-66 Harold H. Brodeur
1966-67 Frank M. Kleiler
1967-68 Woodrow Ginsberg
1968-69 Robert Volger
1969-70 Wayne L. Horvotz
1970-71 Benson Soffer
1971-72 Richard C. Hotvedt
1972-73 Rudy Oswald
1973-74 David Waugh
1974-75 Morag MacLeod Simchak
1975-76 Marvin Friedman
1976-77 Francis X. Burkhardt
1977-78 Leon Greenberg
1978-79 Edgar Weinberg
1979-80 Richard Prosten
1980-81 Philip Ray
1981-82 Randolph Hale
1982-83 Ronald van Helden
1983-84 Donald Wasserman
1984-85 Freddie Lucas
1985-86 Nicolas Fidandis
1986-87 John Truesdale
1987-88 Norman Weintraub
1988-89 James Power
1989-90 John Serumgard
1990-91 Jerald Schultheis
1991-92 John McKensie
1992-93 Henry Guzda
1993-94 Jacqueline Blanchard
1994-95 Michael Conyngham
1995-96 Michael Fischettti
1996-97 Rachael Hendrickson
1997-98 Maggie Jacobson
1998-99 Nancy Sedmak
1999-00 Greg Woodhead
2000-01 Jeff Wheeler
2001-02 James Auerbach
2002-03 Eileen Hoffman
2003-04 Iain Gold
2004-05 Russ Davis
2005-06 Christian Weller
2007 James Auerbach
2008 Julie Martinez Ortega
2009 Revae Moran
2010 Fred Stahl
2011 Jim Kimball
2012 David Schlein
2013 Mary Jane MacArthur
2014 William F. Scott
2015 Steve Silvia
2016 Fred Stahl
2017-18 Jeff Wheeler
2019 Jim Kimball
2020 Patrick McHugh

National LERA Awards for DC LERA

DC LERA was the recipient of the LERA Outstanding Chapter Award in 2004, 2006, and 2007. The DC LERA Chapter received the LERA Star Award in 2005, one of only two chapters to receive this award from LERA. DC LERA Chapter past President Christian Weller received the LERA Outstanding Practitioner Award in 2006.

The DC LERA is on the cusp of tidal changes in national labor policies. Battles between powerful political forces in Washington will determine the future of work for decades to come. We are a non-partisan forum in Washington where these conflicting ideas and ideologies coexist.

We sponsor a series of monthly luncheons on crucial economic, legal, and social issues in employer–employee relations. Thanks to our location, DC LERA draws support from the Washington policy community, with members and speakers from government, universities, unions, think tanks, and policy advocate organizations. Our luncheon programs offer great opportunities for labor rela­tions professionals, union leaders, policy special­ists, scholars, and students to express their views, enrich their knowledge and expand their networks.

A special dimension of DC LERA’s program is international labor relations. We are honored and privileged that representatives of Washington’s diplomatic delegations are active participants in our Chapter. They learn, but they also give back. Attachés and counselors give us inside views of labor relations in Asia and Europe.

We invite you to join us in this fascinating journey. You can join or renew by clicking here. Questions? Please send an email to Pat McHugh at mchughp@gwu.edu.  Thank you in advance for your support. We look forward to seeing you at our great events!  Your tax adviser should confirm that your payment is tax deductible as dues paid to a non-profit professional association.

Please click here for more information about sponsorships of DC LERA and how to sign up.

Click here for a membership form to use as an invitation for a colleague to join the DC LERA.  And, bring someone to the next luncheon meeting.

DC LERA Organizational Sponsors

American Federation of Government Employees
BlueCross BlueShield Association – National Labor Office
Embassy of France
Economic Policy Institute
Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service
Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
Ironworkers International/IMPACT
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Labor Organization Office for the United States

Click here to learn more about our organizational sponsors and how to become one…