Emails show NLRB insiders cheered Biden’s unprecedented attack on agency’s ‘independence’
WASHINGTON, DC – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have uncovered, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) staff emails that expose the partisan response to unprecedented power grabs launched by the Biden Administration at the behest of Organized Labor.
Biden Power Grab Prompts Records Request
The FOIA request was filed to provide further details surrounding Biden’s unprecedented and legally dubious removal of Trump-appointed NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, who had sided with Foundation-represented workers in several cases in which they sought to resist union boss coercion. The emails show widespread partisan bias throughout the agency, which is charged with neutrally enforcing federal labor law.
Under long-standing federal law, the NLRB General Counsel has unreviewable authority to prosecute unfair labor practice charges, including those brought by workers against union officials. To protect that authority from blatant political interference, Congress gave the General Counsel a four-year term.
Once appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, no General Counsel in the history of the NLRB had ever been fired. That changed when, just minutes after Biden took office on January 20, 2021, his administration moved to fire Robb despite 11 months remaining on his term.
NLRB Officials Celebrated Biden Attack on Labor Board’s Top Prosecutor
Following Biden’s election with the backing of Big Labor officials who wanted to shield themselves from accountability at the NLRB, Biden was encouraged by union bosses to remove General Counsel Robb and replace him with a union partisan. Five days after the removal of Robb, Biden fully obliged, selecting career NLRB bureaucrat Peter Sung Ohr as Acting General Counsel.
The FOIA-requested emails show that although some NLRB officials were surprised by Biden’s actions — with one career NLRB attorney noting the move was “not expected” — some current and former NLRB officials voiced their approval of the unprecedented actions that fly in the face of the prosecutorial independence that Congress sought to protect when the General Counsel’s office was established.
Los Angeles-based NLRB Region 31 Director Mori Rubin sent an email to her colleagues reacting to the news that Alice Stock, then the number-two attorney at the agency, had been fired along with Robb. Rubin derided Stock as a “clone” of Robb. She said “there is talk that Peter Ohr may be appointed acting GC, which would be wonderful!” Respondents to the thread, whose names are redacted, proclaimed: “Go Biden!!”, “That would be terrific!” and “Hope this comes true!”
Within days Ohr rescinded almost a dozen guidance memos issued by Robb, including one ensuring workers could avoid funding union political and lobbying activities, another allowing workers to intervene in legal actions that are used to block efforts to secure decertification votes, and yet another strengthening unions’ obligations to workers subject to union boss monopoly bargaining. In all these instances Ohr took the position advocated by union officials who had backed Biden’s election campaign, and against those of Foundation-backed employees.
Ohr earned praise for his aggressive implementation of the Biden agenda. Among the emails unearthed in the FOIA request was a message to Ohr from longtime NLRB attorney Emily Hunt describing her reaction on the day of Biden’s inauguration when she learned that Robb had been removed: “I exclaimed to myself, ‘This day just keeps getting better and better!’” Hunt, whose career with the NLRB spanned over 30 years, commended Ohr for rescinding Robb’s memos.
Foundation Spreads the Word About Activism within NLRB
The NLRB emails received coverage from multiple outlets including Fox Business, The Epoch Times, and Reuters. The coverage exposed the favoritism of many inside the NLRB towards union officials despite the Board’s directive to apolitically enforce federal labor law.
“By celebrating Joe Biden’s unprecedented attack on the Board’s independence so openly, the NLRB officials in these emails make it clear that those inside their agency do not want the Board to be an independent enforcer of the law as Congress intended,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “Instead, these partisans want the Board to be an activist agency with a mission of advancing union boss power at the expense of the rights of rank-and-file workers.”
This article was originally published in the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly newsletter, Foundation Action.
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