Revealed: NLRB Staff Celebrated Biden’s Installation of Union Partisan

Biden NLRB
Source: The Hill

Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act request show NLRB staff praising Biden’s controversial firings and “Acting General Counsel” appointment

Washington, DC (May 19, 2021) – Newly released emails show National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) staff celebrating President Biden’s controversial, unprecedented and possibly illegal firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. The emails were obtained by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Mere minutes into Biden’s presidency the White House Office of Presidential Personnel sent an email to Robb demanding he resign by 5pm the same day or be fired. In response, Robb declined to resign, saying the demand was “unprecedented since the nascence of the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA) and the NLRB” and “undermines Congress’s intent that the Office of the General Counsel be independent of the Board and the Executive Branch.”

“Indeed, my own experience, as well as my conversations with those who held this position before me, have confirmed the need for the NLRB General Counsel to act independently without constant fear of removal,” Robb continued. “The prosecution of violations of the NLRA will now be subject to the political influence of the White House, in violation of Congressional action to improve the function of the NLRB to achieve the NLRA’s mission to fairly resolve labor disputes.”

Despite Robb’s warning about the politicization of NLRA enforcement, his deputy, Alice Stock, was also removed the next day after being designated Acting General Counsel. Soon after, Biden selected long time 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 and arguably illegal actions.

Los Angeles-based NLRB Region 31 director Mori Rubin sent an email to her colleagues reacting to the news that Stock 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!”

Once appointed, Ohr swiftly began to do the bidding of union officials, withdrawing pleadings in cases filed by workers with National Right to Work Foundation legal aid, thereby preventing the cases from being decided by the full Board in Washington, DC. Among others, Ohr ordered the withdrawal of two cases in which workers contended that their employers’ “neutrality agreements” unlawfully aided union officials during organizing drives.

Ohr also rescinded almost a dozen guidance memos issued by Robb, including memos ensuring workers could avoid funding union political and lobbying activities, allowing workers to intervene in legal actions that were used to block efforts to secure decertification votes, and strengthening unions’ duty of fair representation for workers subject to 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 the 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 a redacted individual (identified in a subsequent FOIA as 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!’” The email commends Ohr for rescinding Robb’s memos.

Biden followed his unprecedented removal of Robb by nominating Jennifer Abruzzo to be General Counsel. Until her nomination Abruzzo was a lawyer for the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, which endorsed Biden and pledged huge resources to his campaign. At a Senate hearing Abruzzo admitted she was part of the NLRB review team advocating Robb’s removal, thus undermining the independence of the very office she seeks to hold. At the hearing Abruzzo also refused to commit to recusing herself from cases involving her former employer or its affiliates.

Abruzzo’s refusal to commit to recusal is consistent with the relaxed ethics standards Biden has been applying to former Big Labor officials in his administration. In order to hire former high-ranking union officials, Biden has abandoned ethics requirements that prevent former members of lobbying groups from dealing with their old employers when they join the Administration. Last week it was reported that Biden had already waived ethics rules for Celeste Drake, a former employee of the AFL-CIO, and Aletha Predeoux, once a top lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees.

The Foundation’s FOIA-requested emails, combined with other messages discovered by a similar FOIA request from the Freedom Foundation, demonstrate a fawning approval among NLRB staff for Biden’s undermining of the NLRB’s independence. This approval reaches the top levels of the bureaucracy at the NLRB’s main office in Washington. The Freedom Foundation’s FOIA request revealed that NLRB Senior Attorney Neelam Kundra responded to the news with “so exciting!” and “such a REFRESHING change!!!”

“The President’s unprecedented attack on the NLRB’s Congressionally-established independence should have shocked any NLRB official concerned about neutrally applying the law, rather than twisting it to the benefit of the President’s political allies,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Yet the documents obtained show the Biden power grab was celebrated by many inside the agency who are supposed to impartially apply the law.”

“Independent-minded workers should not have their cases adjudicated by officials who celebrate partisan, pro-union boss attacks on the NLRB,” added Mix. “The Biden Administration continues to stack the deck in favor of union bosses and against the rights of workers who want nothing to do with union affiliation, and these emails show many at the NLRB seem all too happy to go along.”


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