Trump Nominates Partner at Anti-Union Law Firm to Labor Board Seat

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

GOP President Donald Trump nominated John Ring, a partner with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Morgan Lewis and Bockius – named in a prior AFL-CIO report as a top-union buster – to the vacant fifth seat on the National Labor Relations Board.

If or when confirmed by the GOP-run U.S. Senate, Ring would give the board, which rules worker-boss relations in most U.S. private industry, a 3-2 Republican majority. It’s now tied 2-2.

Unions had no immediate comment on the Ring nomination.

But Ring, who heads the firm’s labor-management relations practice and who openly admits he represents management interests, drew praise from top corporate lobbies. The Chamber of Commerce said Ring’s confirmation would “open the door for the board to reconsider many other flawed rulings by the Obama NLRB.” 

A prior AFL-CIO report, cited by workers at Harvard University when they first tried to unionize more than 20 years ago, named Morgan Lewis as one of the top five “union avoidance” firms in the U.S., a fancy name for union-busters.

Whether it still holds that rank is unknown. The Trump administration yanked an Obama Labor Department rule that would have forced union-busters to disclose more of their spending, and in more detail, just as the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act forces unions to account for virtually every penny.

Certainly, Ring’s bio shows his tilt. He “represents management interests in collective bargaining, employee benefits, litigation, counseling, and litigation avoidance strategies. He has an extensive background negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements, most notably in the context of workforce restructuring” – a fancy term for firings – “and multiemployer bargaining.”

The Senate Labor Committee has yet to set a hearing date for Ring.

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!