Bloomberg News

Republican on U.S. Labor Board Quits After Watchdog Allegations

May 28, 2012

Republican U.S. National Labor Relations Board member Terence Flynn resigned after an independent watchdog said he released non-public information, including decisions before rulings were issued.

Flynn sent his May 25 resignation letter to Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, who announced the decision yesterday in a statement. Flynn recused himself from board business until his resignation is effective July 24, according to the statement. The resignation also was sent to President Barack Obama.

The NLRB’s inspector general said in a May 2 report that Flynn, while a board employee, gave unpublished information, including a draft of a board decision, to a former agency member. The AFL-CIO labor federation and two Democrats in Congress had called on Flynn to resign after the disclosures.

Pearce thanked the board’s staff for their “hard work and commitment to excellence through even the most difficult circumstances.” The chairman will comment further May 29, according to the statement.

The watchdog’s allegations, in separate reports March 19 and May 2, added to criticism of the board that mediates disputes between labor and employers. Obama in January appointed Flynn, who had been nominated a year earlier, and two Democrats when the Senate wasn’t in session, bypassing confirmation and triggering legal challenges from Republicans. Flynn was one of two Republicans on the five-member board.

Pearce said after the watchdog report this month that he took the allegations seriously and that they raised questions about ethics and trust.

Miller, Harkin

California Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who heads the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asked Flynn to resign after the May 2 report was released.

The inspector general’s report said that Flynn, while chief counsel to a Republican member and before he was appointed by Obama, improperly gave a draft of an unpublished decision and dissents in three cases to Peter Schaumber, his NLRB boss until August 2010. Some of the information was released while Schaumber was a labor adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to Inspector General David P. Berry. Schaumber’s name has since been dropped from Romney’s campaign website.

In response to the March 19 report from watchdog, which prompted the AFL-CIO to call for his resignation, Flynn said he had none nothing improper and intended to “fulfill my responsibilities” on the board.

Schaumber E-Mail

Berry, in his reports, said that about a month after Schaumber left the agency, he sent his former chief counsel an e-mail asking to “keep me posted” on board decisions. “Sure,” Flynn responded, 54 minutes later, according to Berry’s report.

In one case in which Flynn distributed a dissent, the NLRB eventually said that a MasTec Inc. (MTZ:US) unit wrongfully fired employees who appeared on a television news broadcast in work uniforms and were critical of the company’s compensation plan.

In another case highlighted by the inspector general, Flynn notified Schaumber by e-mail of a board decision that stationary banners announcing a labor dispute didn’t violate laws. Flynn sent his e-mail six days before the decision was announced, according to the watchdog report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net


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