National Labor Relations Board Chairman John Ring (R) has filed a formal complaint against his agency’s inspector general in a move critics suggest is a political calculation to oust the agency’s internal watchdog.
The account of Ring’s complaint against Inspector General David Berry was confirmed by three current and former senior agency personnel and four congressional staffers. They spoke with Bloomberg Law on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue and because the complaint may still be pending at the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency—which oversees IGs at federal agencies.
Each said they believe the chairman is partly motivated by a desire to replace Berry with a more compliant watchdog or, at least, to seriously limit his oversight of the board’s moves to deregulate business and tighten the screws on labor unions.
They said the rift between the agency head and its inspector general is related to Berry’s role in compelling Republican board members in February 2018 to withdraw what would have been among the most consequential labor policy changes for the agency during the Trump administration—a ruling to limit “joint employer” liability for affiliated businesses. Ring joined the board as chairman as that episode was ending and immediately moved to re-enact nearly the same joint employment policy that had been nixed.
Complaints against IGs to the council are infrequent, and it’s rare for one to be filed by the head of the same agency, according to a review of the council’s annual data. The labor board under President Donald Trump has already had to deal with the conflict-of-interest matter in 2018, including calls for Republican member William Emanuel’s resignation. Ring’s move could put the agency on the defensive again and stoke further criticism from Democratic politicians who have accused the board’s GOP members of skirting ethical obligations to establish new joint employment rules and further pursue a deregulatory agenda.
All I know is that either Donald Trump or Jill Stein has my vote in 2020 and certainly not a neoliberal creature of capital like Elizabeth Warren!