Update 4/11/2018: As expected, John Ring was confirmed to join the NLRB today.
The Senate today confirmed John Ring to the National Labor Relations Board, restoring Republican control after a nearly four-month stalemate.
The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Ring, a Morgan Lewis attorney who has represented businesses in disputes with labor unions. His arrival gives Republicans a three-person majority on the five-member board, allowing the GOP to resume rolling back Obama-era decisions in favor of unions.
At the top of the list will be reversing the Obama-era joint employer standard, which determines who’s responsible for labor violations committed by franchisees and contractors. Republicans reversed the Obama-era Browning-Ferris Industries decision in December, only to vacate the new ruling weeks later after the NLRB inspector general concluded that Trump appointee William Emanuel had a conflict with his former law firm.
POLITICO is reporting that John Ring’s confirmation vote to the NLRB will be Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate HELP committee.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled a cloture vote on Ring’s nomination for 2:15 p.m. today, followed by 30 hours of debate if needed. Ring, an attorney with the management-side law firm Morgan Lewis, has attracted scrutiny from Democrats for his work representing large corporations.
The Trump administration’s previously confirmed NLRB choice, Bill Emanuel, was recently faulted by the agency’s inspector general over his failure to recuse himself in a case in which, the inspector general said, Emanuel had a conflict of interest owing to his previous employment by Littler Mendelson, another management-side law firm. Ring provided a list of clients to senators after his confirmation hearing last month.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged lawmakers to reject Ring’s nomination from the Senate floor today, citing the potential for a conflict of interest. “Mr. Ring’s long list of clients is a huge red flag: either he’ll ignore the ethics rules when they’re inconvenient, like Mr. Emanuel did, or he’ll likely have to recuse himself from important cases.”
The National Right To Work Committee — not typically a Warren ally — has expressed similar objections to Ring, though for a different reason. The committee said it worried that, between Emanuel and Ring, the Republican majority would recuse itself out of opportunities to reverse Obama-era precedents.
President Donald Trump’s labor advisers ignored advice from the National Right to Work Committee not to select another management-side attorney for the NLRB, the group said today.
In a written statement, the pro-business group said it warned the White House that picking a management-side attorney to fill former Chairman Philip Miscimarra’s seat would open that person up to conflicts of interest — forcing recusals and allowing Democratic members of the board to keep the Obama administration’s pro-union decisions intact.
The White House apparently ignored the advice, nominating Morgan Lewis attorney John Ring.
“While the White House was considering whom to nominate to fill the NLRB vacancy, Committee officers counseled Trump staff members not to choose for the slot another management attorney who would have to recuse himself or herself potentially from vast numbers of cases involving clients of the attorney’s former employer,” the committee said. “This advice went unheeded.”
Ring’s nomination is especially problematic, the committee said, given the ethics questions surrounding NLRB member William Emanuel. The former Littler Mendelson attorney was recently the target of two inspector general reports, which concluded he should have recused himself from a case involving the joint employer standard. Emanuel has denied wrongdoing.
“If John Ring’s nomination is soon confirmed, as expected, then for the next year and a half two of the three NLRB members who aren’t profoundly biased in favor of forced unionism may have to recuse themselves from multiple cases,” said Matthew Leen, a National Right to Work Committee vice president. “Recusals could make it virtually impossible, until late 2019 or even 2020, for the board to revisit any more of the dozens of radical, precedent-smashing decisions issued by the Obama NLRB.”
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Source: POLITICO Pro
The union representing NLRB employees asked to meet with the agency’s general counsel and chairman this week over cost-cutting measures.
The request follows the passage of the omnibus bill, which retained funding for the agency at the same level as under the previous year’s continuing resolution. NLRB Professional Association President Karen Cook said cost-saving measures such as cutting the agency’s health unit and reorganizing regional offices can no longer be justified under the current funding.
“You have stated that each of these proposals was predicated on imminent budget cuts to the agency,” Cook wrote in a letter sent Friday. “Now, those cuts have not come to pass.”
The omnibus bill rejected a 9 percent cut to agency funding laid out in the White House budget in February. Robb invited Cook to meet with him last Tuesday about proposed changes to field operations and case processing after the union sent a letter on March 15 criticizing him for providing “multiple, inconsistent justifications” for the changes.
Cook said withdrawing the proposals would “restore some of the faith, unity, and sense of mission” in career employees at the NLRB.
“In all my years at the agency, I have not witnessed a time when the public servants who work here felt more disillusioned and more anxious about the work that they do and the way they are valued,” she wrote.