During the flurry of activity that took place “On Day One” of Joe Biden’s presidency, he didn’t even wait an hour before demanding the resignation of Peter Robb, the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board. When Robb refused to resign, Biden fired him the same day, replacing him with Peter Ohr. The firing of an NLRB official ten months before the end of his scheduled term was unprecedented, but the effects of that decision didn’t take long to be felt. An ongoing labor dispute in Oregon was promptly quashed by Ohr in favor of the labor unions. Now the worker who filed the original complaint is taking the Biden administration to court. (Free Beacon)
An Oregon worker is challenging President Joe Biden’s day one purge of Trump appointees from a federal agency, arguing that the administration is shielding a major union accused of violating labor law.
Jeremy Brown accused the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 51 of illegally siphoning donations from his paycheck, prompting an investigation from the National Labor Relations Board, the federal government’s top labor arbiter. The agency ruled in favor of Brown in December 2019. Its top prosecutor, then-general counsel Peter Robb, opened another investigation after Brown alleged that a union attorney threatened him in the course of the investigation. After Robb’s ouster, Biden-appointed acting general counsel Peter Ohr withdrew his support of the complaint.
I’m not sure how strong of a case Jeremy Brown has, though he’s definitely managing to highlight the shady way Joe Biden handled the situation. Despite Supreme Court rulings that eliminated mandatory union dues being deducted from some workers’ paychecks, Brown objected to the local NABET chapter garnishing his wages in that fashion. While Robb was in charge, the NLRB found in Brown’s favor on that complaint. But Brown claims that a union attorney threatened him afterward, prompting another investigation.
Unfortunately, the NLRB typically settles such matters. As soon as Ohr took the position, he dropped the investigation in an obvious signal that Biden would be shielding the labor unions. Brown’s specific complaint calls for the NLRB to reverse a decision by Peter Ohr to withdraw a brief filed in support of Brown by Peter Robb. The basis for the claim is rather sweeping. Brown’s attorneys are claiming that Biden’s firing of Robb before the end of his term violated federal law. As such, any decisions made by Peter Ohr subsequent to that are invalid. If the courts agree with Brown, Biden himself may be unable to replace some of the people he gave pink slips.
At issue here is the established process for replacing the General Counsel of the NLRB. In the nearly 75 years that the board has existed, no president has ever fired a General Counsel before the end of their four-year term. There’s also some precedent to go by. When Barack Obama tried to fill some vacancies on the board via recess appointments when the Senate wasn’t in session, the Supreme Court rebuffed him. The position of General Counsel has to be filled with the approval of a majority of members in the Senate, being that of a “principal officer.” The law establishing the office intentionally omits any language saying that the General Counsel “serves at the pleasure of the President.” Based on that argument, the courts may find that Biden lacked the power to fire Robb in the first place.
Sadly, even if Brown is victorious, he’s only buying the country a ten-month reprieve. When Robb’s original term ends at the end of this year, Biden would be able to nominate Ohr again anyway and he could probably ram that through the Senate. When Trump’s people were in charge, workers were supported in efforts like this, but Biden’s appointee is clearly ready to back up labor unions in whatever they want to do. And considering the fact that they fund most of the Democrats’ campaigns, this is hardly a surprise.