Republicans Must Take Back Control of National Labor Relations Board


Since Republicans reclaimed the majority at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Democrats and unions have been conducting an obstruction campaign against the Board by lobbing baseless ethics complaints and calling for Republican members to recuse themselves from cases. This is a transparent attempt by Democrats to block the agency from restoring longstanding precedent that was upended during the Obama administration. The goal is to run out the clock until the next presidential election. The most recent example of obstruction involves a settlement agreement between McDonald’s and the NLRB.

As I discussed in a previous post, an NLRB administrative law judge recently rejected a settlement agreed upon by McDonald’s, its franchisees and the NLRB General Counsel. McDonald’s appealed this decision. And the Fight for $15, a union front group, claims that NLRB Chairman John Ring and member William Emanuel must recuse themselves from participating in the McDonald’s case.

It appears that the union front group is not alone in the effort to derail the Board in regards to the McDonald’s case. In a letter obtained by Bloomberg BNA, NLRB Chairman John Ring calls out minority staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for improperly meddling with this case.

Chairman Ring wrote to HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA):

… [the] minority staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) has contacted the NLRB’s Inspector General (IG) regarding the pending recusal motion, even though there is no active IG investigation or audit involving the matter. For whatever reason, the IG then discussed the call with the NLRB’s Designated Agency Ethics Officer (DAEO), who has the responsibility to provide the Board’s members independent and objective advice regarding recusal matters.

Ring goes on to stress that the NLRB has procedures in place on how to deal with recusal issues, but the minority staff is not following those procedures. When committee staff wishes to reach out to the NLRB the appropriate method is to contact in the Board’s Congressional Affairs Office. Further, the inspector general is not involved in the McDonald’s case and the NLRB Designated Agency Ethics Official is responsible for advising NLRB members on whether they should recuse themselves from cases, not the inspector general.

Ring goes on:

Given the public statements made by the Democratic members of the HELP Committee prejudging the recusal motion, the minority staff’s contact with the IG, who then discussed the outreach with the DAEO, has the unfortunate appearance of an attempt to improperly influence the outcome of the pending recusal motion.

As I have noted previously, this is an obvious effort by Democrats to politicize the NLRB and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Board when there is nothing inappropriate going on.

This ongoing obstruction campaign by Democrats dovetails into a decision President Trump must tackle imminently. Democrat NLRB member Mark Pearce’s term expires on August 27.

President Trump should resist his advisers that are urging him to “cut a deal with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to reappoint Mr. Pearce for another five-year term,” as The Wall Street Journal editorial board reported. Mr. Pearce spearheaded the Obama NLRB’s efforts to tilt labor relations law in favor of labor unions. During his tenure, the NLRB overturned more than 4,000 years of NLRB precedent. This upheaval of Board policy has created immense uncertainty for job creators and weakened worker freedom.

Mr. Pearce’s NLRB was also responsible for the “ambush election” rule that put workers’ private information at risk, created the job-killing joint employer standard and allowed unions to organize micro-unions. Mark Mix, president at the National Right to Work Committee, highlights in a recent article some of Mr. Pearce’s most anti-worker freedom decisions, which in one instance were denounced as “legally unsupportable” by a federal court.

Besides Mr. Pearce’s poor record on restricting worker freedom, President Trump should not renominate Mr. Pearce because of the Democrats’ obstruction campaign.

Take the McDonald’s case, for example. Since the NLRB is currently composed of five members—three Republican and two Democrats—if Chairman Ring and member Emanuel recuse themselves then the Democrats have a majority. In effect, these baseless ethics complaints could make what is supposed to be a Republican majority Board into a majority Democratic NLRB. This is preposterous.

If President Trump decides to renominate Mark Pearce to the NLRB, that is a signal from the White House that they do not care whether the NLRB is able to administer the National Labor Relations Act.

President Trump cannot allow Democrats to grind the NLRB to a halt until the next presidential election and preserve Obama-era NLRB precedent. President Trump must take a stand and refuse to renominate Mark Pearce to the NLRB. Voters elected a Republican president and, therefore, a Republican majority at the NLRB.