WASHINGTON—By a 50-48 party-line vote Apr. 11, the Senate confirmed Trump nominee John F. Ring to the National Labor Relations Board, restoring the 3-2 Republican majority on the panel.
The vote will likely enable the NLRB to reverse Obama-era rulings such as expediting elections on union representation and expanding when companies can be considered “joint employers” responsible for obeying labor laws.
Ring is co-leader of labor/management relations practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a Philadelphia-based law firm the AFL-CIO once called one of the top five union-busting law firms in the country.
Reaction to the vote was predictably polarized. Fight for $15 posted on Twitter that Ring “spent his career working with corporations against their workers” and his confirmation is “handing the board over to corporate control and bringing additional conflicts of interests to the scandal-ridden agency.”
“Patrick Pizzella and John Ring—two of the President’s nominees for key labor positions—have spent their careers working to strip workers of their rights, defending corporations accused of mistreating workers, and trying to undermine collective bargaining,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) added.
The Senate also confirmed Pizzella, who Trump picked to be deputy secretary of labor, the second-ranking position in the department, last year. Democrats had stalled his confirmation for several months after labor groups criticized his work in the 1990s lobbying for convicted politician-briber Jack Abramoff’s sweatshop operations in the Northern Marianas Islands. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for cloture last month to clear the way for the vote.
On the other side, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich,), chair of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, said in a joint statement that Ring “will be a principled and objective voice on the NLRB, and not a rubber stamp to special interests that were in favor during the Obama Administration.”
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a hardline free-market policy group, said the vote means the NLRB “can get to work rolling back a spate of recent decisions that killed jobs and weakened worker freedom, such as the ruling on joint employer liability that now threatens so many small businesses, contractors, and franchise entrepreneurs.”
Morgan Lewis, which has more than 1,400 attorneys in 25 offices, advertises that it helps clients “avoid union penetration, and strategically shape bargaining units to minimize potential union organizing victories.” It represented the Federal Aviation Administration when President Ronald Reagan fired striking air-traffic controllers in 1981, as well as Major League Baseball during the 1994-1995 strike. In 2014, it represented Amazon when the company defeated technicians’ attempt to organize a union, and it’s also represented the U.S. Postal Service in arbitration with the American Postal Workers Union.
Ring’s clients there included Google, Amazon, Marriott, and others in the air-freight, utilities, health-care, manufacturing, and professional-sports industries who sought his counsel “during union representation and unfair labor practice proceedings” before the NLRB. He was also employer co-counsel to several multiemployer benefits funds, including the New York State Teamsters Benefit Funds.
Morgan Lewis has represented Trump and his Trump Organization businesses since 2005. Former NLRB chair Philip Miscimarra, who Ring is replacing, has returned to the firm.