Labor Board Dismisses Union Misconduct Complaints Following Biden Purge

Joe Biden
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February 2, 2021

A federal labor arbiter abandoned two separate cases against a major labor union just weeks after President Biden ousted the agency's former leaders.

The National Labor Relations Board's top prosecuting office dropped a pair of complaints filed against two chapters of the politically powerful hospitality workers union UNITE HERE in January. The agency, which enforces federal labor laws, had been in the midst of investigating whether local labor officials in Boston and Seattle allegedly abused their power to force members to support the union's political and organizing activities. An agency spokesman declined to comment on the decision.

The withdrawal of the complaints comes shortly after Biden fired a pair of Trump appointees from the independent agency in an "unprecedented" move. Minutes after he was inaugurated, Biden demanded General Counsel Peter Robb's resignation. Robb, who had 10 months left in his term, refused to resign. Biden fired him as well as his successor, former deputy general counsel Alice Stock, within his first two days in office. Biden selected Peter Sung Ohr, a career employee, to serve as acting general counsel and temporarily lead the agency's legal team. Ohr's office issued filings to drop the complaint against the union officials on Jan. 29.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which is representing the complainants, decried the "shameful" decision to withdraw. Spokesman Patrick Semmens said the Biden administration is rewarding his political allies, pointing to the nearly $1 million that UNITE HERE spent in 2020.

"The Biden NLRB’s abandonments of these two cases ... combined with his unprecedented firing of Robb just over a week ago, is a shameful power grab," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "These actions make it clear that independent-minded workers and their rights are completely expendable in the Biden administration’s push to reward the D.C.-based union bosses who helped install Biden in the White House."

The local chapters of UNITE HERE, a service-industry labor union with approximately 300,000 members, did not respond to requests for comment. The complaints accused the union chapters of abusing their power to force union representation on hotel employees and accused the hotels of cooperating with the union.

The Hilton hotel chain involved in the Seattle complaint told the Free Beacon that it cannot comment on employee-related matters. The Boston hotel chain did not respond to a request for comment.

Other labor watchdogs ripped the National Labor Relations Board for turning a blind eye to alleged union abuse under President Biden, who has pledged to be "the most pro-union president" in history.

Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy at the Washington State-based Freedom Foundation, said that the NLRB's decision to abandon the unfair labor practice complaint in Seattle would only empower unions and weaken the rights of non-unionized workers. "The NLRB under Biden may return to past double standards, allowing employers to assist unions in organizing but prohibiting employers from assisting employee efforts to rid themselves of an unwanted union," he said.

"Joe Biden has acted quickly to deliver on his promise to be the most pro-union president in history," Nelson added. "Unfortunately, doing what is best for unions is not the same thing as doing what is best for workers."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.