Senate panel Oks corporate attorney for vacant NLRB seat
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., was skeptical of Ring’s record. She said he consistently represented large and sometimes controversial corporations and consistently argued against workers’ rights. Sen. Murray Twitter

WASHINGTON — Eager to break a partisan 2-2 tie on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Senate panel handling labor issues approved Morgan Lewis management-side partner John Ring for the board’s vacant fifth seat. When confirmed by the GOP-run Senate, Ring would restore the board’s 3-person Republican majority.

The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., was skeptical of Ring’s record. She said he consistently represented large and sometimes controversial corporations such as Google, Amazon and Marriott and consistently argued against workers’ rights. Unions had no immediate comment on the Ring nomination.

“Given the (board’s) last-minute, 11th-hour decisions to disempower workers, the proposals to reorganize the board’s operations in favor of big corporations, and the conflicts of interest already identified by the Inspector General, it’s clear the last thing our nation’s labor board needs is another champion for those at the top,” Murray said.

“Mr. Ring, you have spent your career as a corporate lawyer representing the interests of companies — not workers. You opposed the board’s reforms that stop companies from unnecessarily delaying union elections. And you encouraged the board to undermine long-established rights like the right to co-worker representation in disciplinary interviews.”

“You have even written advice for corporations on how to avoid providing workers with protections — and how to deny them their rights. After years of aiding corporate management in skirting worker protections, I find it difficult to believe you will be able to uphold the core mission of the NLRA,” she said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., extracted a definite promise from Ring that he would not vote on any cases involving Morgan Lewis, a notorious anti-union firm, both on cases before the NLRB and those his firm took to court. She also demanded, and Ring promised to provide, a list of all those clients.

Warren demanded those commitments because another management-side labor lawyer whom GOP President Donald Trump named to the board, William Emanuel, voted in a key case, overturning yet another top Obama-era NLRB ruling, letting unions organize parts of firms his law firm was involved in.

That conflict of interest, which panel Democrats and the board’s Inspector General dug up later, forced the NLRB to reverse its reversal, 3-0, without Emanuel voting.

Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., hoped Ring could continue to restore what Alexander called “balance” – i.e. a pro-business tilt – to the 5-member board.

He particularly looked forward to Ring providing a key vote to overturn an Obama-era NLRB rule to remove or lessen some of the roadblocks, including court challenges, firms routinely use to stymie union organizing drives.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.