Trump’s National Labor Relations Board will be anti-labor

WASHINGTON – By appointing Phillip Miscimarra, an anti-union lawyer, as chair of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Donald Trump is taking another step in assembling his shock troops for destroying unions.

What’s more, by appointing Miscimarra, Trump is taking another step toward packing the NLRB with members who would rule in favor of the companies he owns. In the past, the NLRB has cited Trump companies for breaking labor laws.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that “Like other business owners, President-elect Donald Trump has often had a strained relationship with labor unions, sometimes resulting in regulatory disputes and legal battles. Unlike the others, Trump will soon get to appoint the people who run the agency that hears many of those disputes, the National Labor Relations Board.”

Miscimarra has served on the NLRB since 2013 as a representative of the Republicans. Prior to that, he worked for several law firms specializing in union-busting, including Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

As a Board member, he has consistently dissented from rulings favoring working people that have been handed down by the Board majority, which consists of the two other members, pro-union Democrats Lauren McFerran and Mark Gaston Pearce.

For the time being, even as chair, Miscimarra remains in the minority. But this won’t last long. The Board by tradition consists of three members of the president’s party and two members of the opposition. The board currently has two vacancies which will soon be filled by President Trump, giving pro-corporate members a clear majority.

Turning the NLRB into a pro-corporate, anti-worker body is only one facet of the Trumpites’ many-sided, all out attack on labor:

Trumpite Republican U.S. Reps Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Steve King (Iowa) have introduced a bill calling for a nationwide right-to-work law, which would rob unions of the resources they need to protect the rights of workers.

Furthermore, the new Republican chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R.-N.C., has stated that her committee will repeal measures put in place by the Obama Administration to protect the rights of workers to join unions.

Moreover, Trump’s pick for U.S. U.S. Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, has made billions by paying his workers minimum wage and denying them benefits. He’s CEO of CKE restaurants, a fast foods empire.

And as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s choice to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, vociferously dissented from all pro-worker, pro-consumer, pro-women’s rights decisions made by that court’s majority.

All observers agree that Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is a sure thing. When he gets there, he will have an opportunity to rule on a case brought by the National Right To Work Foundation that started in Illinois. If the case is successful, workers and unions would not be allowed to have “fair share” arrangements.

Miscimarra is “management-side”

According to the Law 360 newsletter, as a member of the NLRB, “Miscimarra has routinely clashed with the board’s Democratic members, issuing dissents critical of majority opinions he deems more labor-friendly … .”

The newsletter points out, for example, that Miscimarra “has frequently criticized the Board’s 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, which tweaked the standard for evaluating proposed bargaining units to more easily allow workers to organize … .”

Miscimarra also opposed the NLRB’s 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries ruling that made it easier for workers to hold both the owner of a local franchise from whom they work and the national franchising corporation liable for labor violations.

Miscimarra has also criticized the Board’s 2012 D.R. Horton ruling, which makes it illegal for employers to require their workers to waive their rights to sue as a group.

According to Law 360, these three rulings “are on the shortlist of Obama board decisions that management-side attorneys expect the Trump board will overturn once it’s filled out.”

Trump will also be able to replace outgoing NLRB General Counsel Richard A. Griffin, who among many other pro-worker measures, led the NLRB in formulating a ruling that makes it more difficult for employers to replace striking employees.

Law360 says that [the appointment of Miscimarra] “should give the management side hope after years of labor-friendly rulings … .”

“We have never seen a situation like this in the 81-year history of the Board, where the president who appoints parties [could have] a financial interest in a matter coming before the Board,” William Gould, former NLRB chairman and professor emeritus at Stanford Law School, told NPR.


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.