ICYMI: Ethics Shenanigans at the Labor Board
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 20, 2021
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial aptly points out that Democrats have a glaring double standard when it comes to conflicts of interest in cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Democrats are refusing to follow ethics standards they pushed for under the Trump administration. This blatant hypocrisy prompted Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) to lead a group of bicameral lawmakers in sending a letter to the NLRB, demanding prompt action on Members Gwynne Wilcox’s and David Prouty’s obvious conflicts of interest.
Wilcox’s and Prouty’s conflicts of interest are most pronounced in the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Final Rule on joint employer status. SEIU’s goal is to re-write the rules to favor unions at the expense of workers and business owners. From having close ties to pro-union activist organizations to being publicly endorsed by the SEIU, this letter demonstrates why Wilcox and Prouty clearly need to recuse themselves from any cases related to joint employer policy.
The letter states:
“When Board members with conflicts of interest fail to recuse themselves from consideration of matters active before the Board, the American public’s trust in the Board’s impartiality is deeply eroded…
“The working relationship between Member Prouty and the SEIU is documented as positive in nature, and the closeness of the relationship is demonstrated in SEIU’s support of Prouty during the Senate confirmation process…
“[I]t is apparent that the SEIU counts on now-Member Prouty to be a continued ally in his new capacity as a Board member…
“Member Wilcox also has notable conflicts that warrant her recusal from matters involving the joint employer rule…
“The working relationships between Members Prouty and Wilcox and the SIEU, as well as the relationships between Member Prouty to counsel trying the case, is evident…
“Taking the above into consideration, one thing is clear: Members Wilcox and Prouty cannot be neutral arbiters on cases involving issues or policies concerning the Final Rule. This conflict raises concerns that each will predetermine policy outcomes, and at a minimum, their involvement in such matters would create the appearance of a conflict of interest…
“At the very least, all members of the NLRB should be held to the same standard. And no one should be able to advance the special interests of favored groups over the good of the American people.”
By: The Editorial Board
October 20, 2021
Big Labor has long targeted fast-food chains and other franchise businesses for unionization with little success. So they are again turning to the National Labor Relations Board for help, and the new Biden majority seems willing to dodge ethics rules to oblige.
Two Biden appointees to the NLRB— Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty —have worked for the SEIU. GOP Members of Congress led by Indiana Sen. Mike Braun have written to NLRB Chair Lauren McFerran demanding that both Biden appointees recuse themselves from litigation or issues regarding the joint-employer rule.
Ms. Wilcox was associate general counsel of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and was also a partner at the union law firm, Levy Ratner. She represented “Fight for $15,” a group that sued McDonald’s in a joint-employer liability case that may be headed to the NLRB along with other SEIU suits that have Ms. Wilcox’s fingerprints on them.
The two Biden appointees suggest they must recuse only from cases involving their union local. But SEIU International exerts significant control over locals on membership, strikes, lockouts and union dues. The conflict of interest is far more direct and problematic than Sen. Warren’s standard of near-total recusal for any Republican who ever worked in labor law.
It strains credulity that Ms. Wilcox or Mr. Prouty could rule impartially on a joint-employer standard that they and their former union employers fought for years.
A single standard should apply to NLRB appointees of either party, which means the two Democrats have no business participating in joint-employer cases.
Read the full editorial here.