National Labor Relations Board nominee John Ring gave the Senate HELP Committee a list of clients whom he’s represented since 2016, along with a second list of clients represented by his firm, Morgan Lewis, that are involved in NLRB cases, appeals or petitions.
Ring agreed, in a reply to written questions from ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), that for the next two years he “will not participate in any matter that comes before the board” if Morgan Lewis “represents, or represented, a party.” He also agreed to seek guidance from the NLRB’s ethics officer whenever a future proceeding might pose a potential conflict of interest.
Ring is being subjected to heightened scrutiny because in December, a previous Trump administration nominee, William Emanuel, participated in an important pro-business ruling, Hy-Brand, regarding which NLRB’s inspector general concluded Emanuel had a conflict of interest. In response, the NLRB vacated its Hy-Brand ruling.
Ring said he personally had no cases currently before the board or on appeal in which he represents a party. Among his clients since 2016, he said, were Amazon, Bechtel, Google, Marriott, Northrop Grumman, and pension and health care funds for the Teamsters, UNITE HERE, and the New York State Teamsters. “Note that this list includes entities for which reporting was not required by the 278e financial disclosure,” Ring wrote.
The list Ring furnished of Morgan Lewis clients involved in NLRB matters included Aramark, Boeing, Frontier Communications, Pacific Maritime Association, and Sysco, among others.
The Senate HELP Committee will vote on Ring’s nomination later today.
Update: The Senate HELP Committee rescheduled until Thursday its vote on NLRB nominee John Ring.
The vote was previously scheduled for today, although no time or location was set.
In addition to Ring’s nomination, the committee will vote Thursday on Marco Rajkovich’s nomination to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
Reported by Politico Pro this afternoon
Vermont Attorney Peter Robb is close to being named the next general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, according to a source familiar with the decision.
Robb, a management-side attorney with the firm Downs Rachlin Martin in Brattleboro, Vt., specializes in “defending employers from unfair labor practice charges, age and sex discrimination charges, class action age claims, and wage/hour claims as well as bringing suits against labor organizations,” according to his online biography. He has represented companies in state-level union disputes and before the NLRB.
“With such vast experience and a no-nonsense approach, Peter’s clients look to him for sharp advice, rigorous representation and powerful litigation,” his biography says.
The NLRB general counsel plays the role of prosecutor, investigating and charging companies that may have violated the National Labor Relations Act. Robb is expected to be named to the post pending completion of an FBI background check.
Robb did not respond to requests for comment. He’s slated to replace the current general counsel, Richard Griffin, Jr., an Obama appointee whose four-year term ends Nov. 4, 2017.
Labor and employment counsel, achieving strategic resolutions on behalf of management.
Peter Robb’s storied career has spanned all aspects of labor and employment law — from chief Counsel to members of the National Labor Relations Board to legal advisor to some of the largest corporations in the world. His extensive experience includes advising on mergers/acquisitions, plant closings, labor contract negotiations (both large and small), managing lockouts and strikes, securing labor injunctions, discrimination issues and disability claims. His litigation experience includes defending employers from unfair labor practice charges, age and sex discrimination charges, class action age claims, and wage/hour claims as well as bringing suits against labor organizations. With such vast experience and a no-nonsense approach, Peter’s clients look to him for sharp advice, rigorous representation and powerful litigation.
EducationUniversity of Maryland School of Law, J.D. cum laude, 1976, editor Maryland Law Forum, Georgetown University, B.A., 1970
International Labor Update
One of the most enlightening sessions at the 2017 CUE Spring Conference was the international labor update. If you operate as a part of an international company, this is a case of “what you don’t know can and will hurt you.”
Regional Differences Matter
International labor experts identify major differences in four major regions of the world: Mexico, Japan, US/Canada, and Europe.
Here’s a real example of how these differences can play out. The United Auto Workers (UAW) recently distributed brochures in the US and Canada that asserted that a global auto manufacturer has more unionized plants, worldwide, than non-union plants. That’s a bold statement, but it doesn’t reveal the entire truth: in some countries, employers with over 25 – 50 employees must have unions.
The auto manufacturer has large operations in both Mexico and Japan. In Mexico, most employers try to engage with a “white union”, which is a company-friendly union. In Japan, the unions are so company-friendly that many employers (including many multi-national companies) use unions as a leadership training ground. Many senior members of management at these companies previously held leadership positions with the union at some point in their career.
In Japan and Mexico, the relationship between management and unions is friendly, cooperative, and non-adversarial. The unions understand that they’re only successful if the company is successful. This creates a balance between the employees, the union, and the company. The relationship is so close and cooperative, that in Japan every year each union has a strike on the same day. It’s all scheduled into the production schedule and it’s considered a normal part of doing business in Japan.
European works councils are usually also cooperative, but they operate a bit differently. Members of the works council are usually also on the employer’s board of directors.
In the US and Canada, our labor laws were developed in response to company-controlled unions, so they are structured to avoid these situations. This places unions and management in an adversarial relationship.
In Mexico, unions are sometimes established to have adversarial relationships with employers, and are known as “red unions”. A red union is often influenced by organized crime, drug cartels, or US or European labor unions and obviously aren’t as easy to work with as white unions. That’s why most companies are willing to make occasional minor concessions to white unions so they can maintain a good relationship and avoid having a red union enter the workplace.
Sometimes an American or Canadian based union financially supports a red union in Mexico, and gives them inside information about negotiations with American and Canadian employers. As an example, the UAW has used this tactic. They’ve experienced an exodus of automakers from the US and Mexico. They want to stem the tide of companies moving away by making it difficult for them to operate.
Global Framework Agreements
Unions are searching for leverage, and they’re finding it on the international playing field.
If your company’s global headquarters is located outside of the US or Canada, it’s likely that you’re impacted by a Global Framework Agreement (GFA). Most multinational companies established a code of conduct decades ago to address their position on child labor, human trafficking, discrimination, and other social justice issues. Many of these issues were taken from the International Labor Organization (ILO) itself.
Companies created codes of conduct to be fairly generic, unilateral documents. Unions wanted bilateral agreements with multinational companies that expanded their reach beyond their local union halls. So, they formed global union federations. Traditionally unions try to get a parent company in a trade union-friendly country onboard.
For example, Accor is a global hospitality company based in France. A global union federation visits their headquarters and asks for a bilateral agreement that outlines Accor’s values per the ILO. It’s easy for Accor to take a stand on social justice issues such as child labor. During the conversation, the CEO and global union federation discuss other items, and end up with a document that includes freedom of association, dispute resolution, and collective bargaining.
The challenge is that in the US and Canada, these concepts have a very different meaning than they do in Europe.
Since these concepts have a different meaning in Europe, and are considered somewhat innocuous, the global parent often neglects to consider the impact on its US subsidiary before signing the document. Some GFA’s include:
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