Right to Work Group Demands Documents on Firing of Labor Panel’s Top Lawyers

February 10, 2021 Updated: February 10, 2021

National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) officials are demanding copies of all documents related to President Joe Biden’s unprecedented firing of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) two top lawyers.

The lawyers were NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb and his deputy, Alice Stock, who briefly replaced her former boss; they were both subsequently replaced on an acting basis by Biden’s selection of Peter Ohr.

“On January 20 at 12:23 PM, a mere 23 minutes after the President formally took office, President Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Robb resign or be fired,” the NRTWF said in a statement on Feb. 10.

“After Robb refused to resign, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand and his Senate confirmation to a four-year term, he was fired that same day. Robb’s deputy, Alice Stock, received a similar threat the next day only to be fired as well when she refused to resign.”

No NLRB general counsel has previously been fired from the position, which comes with a four-year term and requires Senate confirmation. The NRTWF’s demand for documents is contained in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NLRB. The board has 10 days in which to at least acknowledge receipt of the request.

The FOIA also demands documents concerning actions that Ohr took shortly after moving into the general counsel position, in ordering regional NLRB offices to reverse the “neutrality agreement” position previously adopted by Robb in cases involving employees of hotels in Seattle and Boston.

“Robb had sustained employee appeals in both cases and ordered NLRB regional officials to issue complaints against UNITE HERE union officials and hotel management. Both cases were just a few weeks away from scheduled trials before NLRB Administrative Law Judges,” the NRTWF statement reads.

“However, about a week after Robb’s unprecedented firing, Ohr directly ordered Seattle NLRB officials to withdraw the complaint and dismiss one of the cases, which had been filed by [NRTWF] staff attorneys for Embassy Suites housekeeper Gladys Bryant.

“The Seattle Region did so on January 29. The next business day, Boston NLRB officials dropped the other case, which Foundation staff attorneys were litigating for four Boston Hotel housekeepers who had had UNITE HERE thrust upon them.”

The NRTWF argued in the two cases that, since NLRB case law forbids employers from providing “more than ministerial aid” to employees who attempt to vote out, or decertify, an unwanted union, the government should apply the same standard when a case involves management officials assisting union efforts to become the sole bargaining agent on behalf of a firm’s employees. A policy memo issued by Robb had endorsed such a neutral application of the law.

The NRTW FOIA also seeks “all documents and communications” concerning these issues between Ohr and “any Member of the U.S. House of Representatives or any U.S. Senator,” “any officer, employee or representative of a labor organization,” “any representative of … the Biden-Harris transition organization,” or “any official or employee of the U.S. Government, including officials and employees of the National Labor Relations Board,” among other parties.

“The Biden Administration’s radical, unprecedented firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb immediately resulted in so-called Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr quashing two Foundation-backed cases, which threatened a key privilege union bosses use to seize power over workers across the country,” NRTWF President Mark Mix said in the statement.

“This FOIA request seeks documents related to this scandalous power grab, which is clearly designed to shut down multiple NLRB prosecutions of Biden’s union boss political allies for their violation of workers’ legal rights.”

The NRTWF’s FOIA follows a similar document request from four leading House Republicans to the Biden White House.

Biden is heavily indebted to labor unions, having received more than $29 million in contributions to his 2020 presidential campaign, according to opensecrets.org.