Washington, DC (February 9, 2021) – Following the Biden Administration’s unprecedented and legally dubious removal of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb and his second-in-command, Alice Stock, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has just submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency to dig deep into this unfolding scandal.
The FOIA request asks for all correspondence related to Robb’s and Stock’s firings, and two Foundation-supported cases for workers which were hastily suppressed by NLRB Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr shortly after he was installed in Robb’s place by President Biden. Both cases challenged union officials’ collusion with management to foist union representation on hotel workers without even an employee vote.
On January 20 at 12:23 PM, a mere 23 minutes after the President formally took office, President Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Robb resign or be fired. After Robb refused to resign, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand and his Senate confirmation to a four-year term, he was fired that same day. Robb’s deputy, Alice Stock, received a similar threat the next day only to be fired as well when she refused to resign.
Since the office of NLRB General Counsel was established in 1947, no sitting General Counsel of the NLRB has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, even when the White House changed hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of the first year after Trump’s election (until his term expired on 10/31/17).
In addition to general information regarding the circumstances of Robb’s removal and Ohr’s installation, the FOIA request specifically asks for documents regarding two cases brought by hotel employees challenging so-called “neutrality agreements.” Robb had sustained employee appeals in both cases and ordered NLRB regional officials to issue complaints against UNITE HERE union officials and hotel management. Both cases were just a few weeks away from scheduled trials before NLRB Administrative Law Judges.
However, about a week after Robb’s unprecedented firing, Ohr directly ordered Seattle NLRB officials to withdraw the complaint and dismiss one of the cases, which had been filed by Foundation staff attorneys for Embassy Suites housekeeper Gladys Bryant. The Seattle Region did so on January 29. The next business day, Boston NLRB officials dropped the other case, which Foundation staff attorneys were litigating for four Boston Yotel housekeepers who had had UNITE HERE thrust upon them.
The FOIA request also demands all documents germane to Ohr’s rescission of a September 2020 memo issued by Robb, which advised NLRB regional officials to adopt a consistent standard in “neutrality agreement” cases. Foundation staff attorneys maintain in both the Boston and Seattle cases that because NLRB case law forbids employers from providing “more than ministerial aid” to employees who attempt to vote out, or decertify, an unwanted union, the same standard must apply in cases where union officials obtain employer assistance in installing a union as workers’ monopoly “representative.” Robb’s memo had endorsed that neutral application of the law.
The request demands “all documents and communications” concerning these issues between Ohr and “any Member of the U.S. House of Representatives or any U.S. Senator,” “any officer, employee or representative of a labor organization,” “any representative of…the Biden-Harris transition organization,” or “any official or employee of the U.S. Government, including officials and employees of the National Labor Relations Board,” among other parties.
“The Biden Administration’s radical, unprecedented firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb immediately resulted in so-called Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr quashing two Foundation-backed cases which threatened a key privilege union bosses use to seize power over workers across the country,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This FOIA request seeks documents related to this scandalous power grab, which is clearly designed to shut down multiple NLRB prosecutions of Biden’s union boss political allies for their violation of workers’ legal rights.”
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