Scott Subpoenas NLRB Chairman for Documents Regarding Potential Conflicts of Interest

September 15, 2020
Press Release
After more than a year of obstruction, Chairman Scott says, “the Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct.”

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) subpoenaed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman John Ring for internal ethics memos and other documents that could reveal Trump-appointed Board Members participated in major NLRB actions despite being instructed to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest. The subpoena comes in response to the NLRB’s refusal to provide relevant documents after nearly 18 months of lawful oversight requests.

In a September 1 letter to Chairman Ring, Chairman Scott notified the Board that if the agency did not turn over the requested documents, he would be forced to exercise his subpoena authority.

“The Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct. The only facts the Committee has to consider, at this point, are those that are publicly available, which reveal processes tainted with conflicts of interest and prejudicial error,” the Chairman wrote.

For nearly a year and a half, the Committee has sought information from the Board on its handling of conflicts of interest and recusal obligations. The Committee’s requests are focused on three potential instances of misconduct:

  • The participation of Chairman Ring and Board Member William Emanuel in a case involving McDonald’s retaliating against worker organizing, in which the Board approved a proposed settlement over workers’ objections. The Board is refusing to provide an internal ethics memo that likely ignores critical information or instructs Chairman Ring and/or Member Emanuel to recuse themselves. Member Emanuel previously worked for Littler Mendelson while the firm was advising McDonald’s on legal issues.
  • The participation of Member Emanuel in the rulemaking on joint employer status, which was announced as a consequence of the NLRB vacating a decision to reach the same result due to Member Emanuel’s conflict of interest.  The Committee previously raised concerns that the Board’s ethics memo did not analyze whether Member Emanuel’s conflict of interest carried over into the rulemaking, but the Board ignored these concerns in the final rule.
  • The NLRB’s hiring of an independent contractor, Ardelle Associates, to analyze public comments related to the Board’s joint employer rule. The rule itself made it easier for companies to evade responsibility for upholding workers’ rights when hiring independent contractors. The Board has refused to provide documents outlining the instructions given to Ardelle Associates, which likely reveal the Board’s attempt to manipulate the public comment analysis to fit its desired outcome.

“It can only be presumed that the continued refusal…is indication that the NLRB is attempting to cover up malfeasance or misfeasance in the McDonald’s adjudication, the joint employer rulemaking, or both,the Chairman concludes.

To read Chairman Scott’s first letter to NLRB Chairman Ring, click here.

To read the subpoena for key documents, click here.

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