Morgan Lewis Partner Said to be White House Pick for Labor Board

By Ben PennLawrence E. Dube, and Chris Opfer


  • White House vetting John Ring to fill looming NLRB vacancy, sources say
  • Management lawyer would preserve board’s GOP majority when Miscimarra exits

Management-side attorney John Ring is going through a final White House background check to fill an upcoming Republican vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board, sources briefed on the process tell Bloomberg Law.

If Ring clears the White House vetting, he would be tapped to fill the seat of Chairman Phil Miscimarra (R), whose term expires Dec. 16. It’s not clear whether Ring, a partner in Morgan Lewis’s Washington office, would also be named chairman of the five-member board. That role could instead go to one of other two GOP lawyers already on the board.

Ring represents businesses in an array of industries who are facing union representation issues and unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB, according to his firm’s online bio.

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 that expanded joint employer liability for affiliated businesses, shortened the time period for union elections, and limited employers’ use of contracts to block class actions by their workers.

Republicans view President Donald Trump’s next NLRB nominee as vital to retain the GOP’s recently acquired 3-2 board majority, without a lengthy gap when Miscimarra leaves. With the recent Senate confirmation of members Marvin Kaplan, a former GOP congressional staffer, and William Emanuel, a longtime management lawyer, Republicans seized majority control of the NLRB this fall for the first time in nine years. Combined with the recent arrival of Trump’s pick for NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb (R), the board’s new political makeup allows for the reconsideration of some major Obama-era decisions that facilitated union organizing.

However, Ring’s background check and Senate confirmation votes likely wouldn’t be finished for at least a few months, meaning the current GOP majority will be short-lived. When Miscimarra departs in 17 days, the NLRB will return to a 2-2 political split.

“We have no personnel announcements at this time,” a White House spokesman told Bloomberg Law in response to a request for comment.

Defended IBM before NLRB

Ring’s name first surfaced as a leading contender for this position in August, when sources told Bloomberg Law he was at the top of a short list for a seat on the board.

California agriculture lawyer Mike Stoker had also been said to be up for the job. The West Wing appeared to have been split, at least earlier this year, between Stoker, who was a Trump campaign loyalist, and Ring, who has more direct experience with the board.

Ring referred a Bloomberg Law inquiry to a Morgan Lewis spokeswoman, who declined to comment.

Ring represents air freight, utilities, health-care, manufacturing, defense, and professional sports industry clients in labor disputes.

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.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Penn and Lawrence E. Dube in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com and ldube@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com