Management lawyer John Ring is at the top of a short list for a Republican seat on the National Labor Relations Board, sources familiar with the situation told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 22.
Ring, who is currently a partner at Morgan Lewis in Washington, would fill a seat on the five-member board being vacated by Philip Miscimarra (R). The NLRB is on the verge of its first GOP majority in nearly a decade. That would likely give the board the chance to revisit a wide range of Obama-era decisions that critics say tilted the scales in favor of labor unions.
Miscimarra, the board’s chairman, announced earlier this month that he would not seek a second term when his current term expires in December. Former congressional lawyer Marvin Kaplan (R) was recently sworn in for a separate board seat, while Littler Mendelson attorney William Emanuel is awaiting confirmation for the third Republican spot.
A White House spokesman declined to comment for this story. Ring didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment.
Vermont management lawyer Peter Robb is set to be named NLRB general counsel, pending a background check, sources told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 21. Outgoing General Counsel Richard Griffin’s (D) term ends Oct. 31.
Ring represents air freight, utilities, health-care, manufacturing, defense, and professional sports industry clients in labor disputes, according to his law firm bio. He represented IBM in a case in which the board ruled that workers who are not union members don’t have a legal right to bring a co-worker into an investigative interview with management.
The board will have a laundry list of items that business advocates would like to see a Republican majority and GOP general counsel address. That includes moves to expand joint employer liability for affiliated businesses, shorten the time period for union elections, and limit employers’ use of contracts to block class actions by their workers.
In the meantime, court decisions may limit the board’s ability to roll back the joint employer and class action moves.
The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments in October in a case challenging the board’s decision that class action waivers violate federal labor law. An appeals court in Washington is currently mulling a separate dispute over a board decision finding that an employer that exerts indirect control over an affiliated business’s workers may be on the hook as a joint employer for collective bargaining purposes.
Labor unions and employee advocates say the board’s move to expand joint employer liability is a common-sense attempt to cut through the maze of confusing business relationships becoming increasingly common in the workplace. They say the decision also gives workers an opportunity to bargain with the businesses that actually set the terms and conditions of their jobs. Critics of class action waivers argue the contractual arrangements make it harder and more expensive for workers to sue their employers.
— With assistance from Hassan A. Kanu (Bloomberg BNA) and Josh Eidelson (Bloomberg News)