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When Arnold Ordman
began working for the NLRB after the war, his salary was quite low. I recall
seeing a pay stub when his pay was $300 a month ($3600 a year) but I don't
think his starting salary was that high. I recall considerable family
discussion that we would be very well off if his salary ever got to be
$10,000 a year, and that event happened in the late 1950's I think. I believe
that when he became a Trial Examiner it went up to about $14,000 a year.
When he was appointed General Counsel the salary was set by law at $20,000
a year. I think at that time members of Congress got $40,000 - maybe
less - and most appointed officials had salaries scaled down from there.
President Kennedy had a great deal of trouble recruiting federal officials
because of the low salaries. Kennedy and Johnson did a great deal
to increase federal salaries – in part by increasing salaries for Congress.
By the end of his eight+ years as General Counsel, I believe
his salary was in excess of $60,000.
The office of General Counsel was highly politically controversial.as well as relatively powerful. About 2000 employees reported to the General Counsel. Duties at that time included the initial investigation of unfair labor practices, filing complaints, investigating and prosecuting such complaints before the Trial Examiner and then the NLRB. Once the NLRB ruled, either the defendant or the NLRB could take the case to a federal Court of Appeals or the US Supreme Court; the General Counsel or his employees argued the case in court.
No one before Arnold had held the job for more than one four-year term. But when Arnold's term expired in 1967, he was so popular that there were no serious other candidates. At the time, President Johnson was very tied up with problems of the War in Vietnam. So the term expired with no reappointment. Arnold, resenting the lack of guidance from the White House, at least symbolically packed up his desk and went home. Within a few days the fact that the NLRB could file no new complaints and file no court papers (all of which, by law, had to be signed by the General Counsel) was noticed by the press and others, and the White House got complaints. Soon Johnson appointed Arnold as Acting General Counsel and then a few days later send a formal notice of reappointment to the Senate. Arnold was confirmed again. So he served, I think, somewhat over eight years and a month – over twice as long as anyone else had ever held the office.
When Richard Nixon became President in 1968, he strongly disapproved of Arnold and wanted him out. Traditionally General Counsels had served out their four-year terms, so Arnold was rather surprised when an assistant at the White House called to ask when his resignation would be coming in. He stewed about it for awhile, talked it over with Evelyn and other advisors, and then told the White House that he intended to serve out his term. The White house said they felt he could be fired by the President. He said he'd read the law and it was not clear on the point; he felt there was a strong case that like the members of independent agency boards such as the SEC and NLRB, he was entitled to serve out his term. (There were few comparable situations to judge by. In most agencies, the lawyers are appointed by the Board. NLRB, with a General Counsel separately appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, is a highly unusual exception. Arnold said he was willing to talk the case to the courts if Nixon wanted to push it. Nixon decided not to and Arnold served out his turn.
After his term as General Counsel expired in 1971, he was about 57 years old. He certainly could have taken a law professorship or the like and finally gotten to be a college professor as he had once wanted. He didn't get the offer he wanted in DC, e.g. from Georgetown or George Washington University Law Schools. I think he did get an offer from U of Virginia, and was also offered other jobs, e.g. head of Labor Relations for New York City. By this time Evelyn had a job in Matryland she was very happy with, they had good friends in Washington, and they decided not to leave DC. So he returned to the last ‘protected' Civil Service job he had had before taking the political appointments, as Trial Examiner (the name had changed to "Administrative Law Judge"). His now-high salary was protected, i.e. continued for his first several years of government service, as so contributed to his eventually retiring on a very high government pension.
After retiring he became a private practice Labor Arbitrator (more stories) and also served in a part-time position on the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board, to which he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Arnold used to say that he had held Presidential Appointments from three Presidents, Kennedy, Johnson, and ‘unfortunately', Reagan, but that the only one he'd actually been accused of plotting to assassinate was Eisenhower (story, ‘Overthrow the Government with wildflowers and gorse').
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