John Ring, a Morgan, Lewis & Bockius management-side labor and employment partner in Washington whose practice focuses on collective bargaining, would solidify the Republican leadership of the National Labor Relations Board if he is confirmed to fill a vacancy there.
The Trump administration on Jan. 12 announced its intent to nominate Ring to the NLRB, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Philip Miscimarra, a former Morgan Lewis partner in Chicago who consistently voted for business interests during his term on the Obama-era board.
Ring’s nomination was expected. Bloomberg earlier reported Ring was under consideration for a post. Ring, a former Morgan Lewis hiring partner in the Washington office, was not immediately reached for comment.
“Morgan Lewis lawyers have a long history of serving in many federal agencies at the highest level and we’re proud that our partner John Ring will continue in that tradition when confirmed. John’s unflappable integrity and skill in balancing legal and business concerns will be an asset to the National Labor Relations Board,” Jami McKeon, chair of Morgan Lewis, said in a statement.
➤➤ Get more employment law news and analysis with Labor of Law— Law.com’s new email briefing by Erin Mulvaney. Learn more and sign up here.
Miscimarra’s departure left the NLRB evenly divided between two Republicans and two Democratic members. The board moved quickly in December, before Miscimarra’s resignation, to overturn a string of Obama-era precedents that would undo the broad scope of the joint employment relationship and strike handbook guidelines. The board’s new leaders also signaled their intent to revisit an election rule that, left in place, would shorten the time it takes to hold a union vote.
Miscimarra, who’d been a member of the NLRB since 2013, hasn’t announced his post-NLRB plans. Morgan Lewis is home to two other former NLRB members—Chuck Cohen and Harry Johnson.
Grace Speights, who heads the labor and employment practice at Morgan Lewis, said it was “particularly special that John Ring is being nominated to replace Phil Miscimarra.”
At Morgan Lewis, Ring has represented clients in unfair labor practice proceedings before the labor board. He also served as counsel to a number of national negotiating teams, including the National Master Freight Agreement. He has worked for Morgan Lewis for 30 years. According to his LinkedIn profile, he worked for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1981 to 1988 as a staff assistant.
If confirmed, Ring would help the NLRB overturn policies criticized by the business community during the Obama administration. In a blog post in 2015 on the Morgan Lewis website, Ring and partner Joseph Ragaglia called the board “activist.”
“For unionized companies, the challenge is to keep up with the chanced and increased scrutiny regarding established precedent,” Ring and Ragaglia wrote then. “For non-union employers—which are increasingly being targeted for enforcement of workplace requirements (everything from workplace email and social media to business structuring)—the challenge is often to confront issues they never even had to consider before.”
On the so-called “quickie” election rule the Obama-era board embraced, Ring said in 2014 that the proposed regulations would impose burdens on employers and encroach on employees’ privacy. Under the rules, employers would be required turn over to the government and a union the company email addresses and personal telephone numbers of potential bargaining unit members.
Ring will join new Republican members William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan. Emanuel is a former shareholder at Littler Mendelson in Los Angeles whose past work in private practice has raised recusal issues.
Democratic NLRB members Mark Gaston Pearce and Lauren McFerran would form the minority on the board. They issued oppositions when the Republican-majority adopted rulings on major topics and made an attempt to rollback the election rule.
Peter Robb, the NLRB’s new general counsel, has indicated his intent to help the board overturn Obama-era precedent. Employee-rights groups and Democrats have decried the early decisions of the Republican majority and fear the rightward turn of the board will neglect union and workers.
Mike Scarcella in Washington contributed to this report.