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Latest News - April 2012

April 2, 2012
Top union leaders call on NRLB member to step down
Source: Workday Minnesota

Top union leaders are calling for one of the two Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board, Terence Flynn, to step down after the agency’s Inspector General found Flynn committed ethics violations while he was a chief counsel to GOP NLRB member Brian Hayes.

The statements by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Change To Win Chair and UFCW President Joseph Hansen and Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger also pointed out that one recipient of Flynn’s communications, former GOP NLRB board member Peter Schaumber, used the data he got from Flynn for private gain.

That meant Flynn violated government ethics rules, which bar use of government equipment – Flynn’s NLRB-owned computer – for private profit. Flynn also sent some privileged information to former GOP NLRB member Peter Kirsanow, the IG said.

Hansen, Trumka and Buffenbarger all criticized Flynn after agency Inspector General David Berry issued a 13-page memorandum on March 19 with his findings, and including Flynn’s response.

Trumka said Flynn “committed a pattern of ethical violations that are nothing less than shocking.” He added that “Schaumber used his connections through his former chief counsel, Flynn, to get internal confidential information that he used in ongoing public attacks” on the NLRB.

Flynn’s actions “are unprecedented and indefensible” and Flynn should quit, Trumka said. The Justice Department should probe the case and bring criminal charges, if needed, he added. The AFL-CIO launched an e-mail drive on the issue.

Buffenbarger agreed with Trumka. “Flynn committed serious ethical violations” and “should do the right thing and resign immediately,” he said. “At a minimum, the report is a wake-up call about the extent to which NLRB opponents are willing to go to achieve its destruction. At worst, it alleges serious crimes that warrant aggressive prosecution…Either way, Flynn should not be allowed to remain” at the NLRB.

Hansen urged Congress to “launch a full investigation” of Flynn’s conduct when he sent the data to Schaumber and Kirsanow, now a National Association of Manufacturers counsel. Hansen urged “holding all wrongdoers fully accountable.”

“The NLRB must carry out its important mission of ensuring union elections are conducted freely and fairly. Regrettably, this independent agency has consistently come under political attack from members of Congress and candidates for president who want to make it harder for workers to organize,” Hansen added. “The fact this effort was reportedly being orchestrated by a high-profile employee of the board is completely unacceptable.

“NLRB members and staff should serve as referees, striving for the fairest possible outcome and ensuring rules are followed and enforced. This report suggests Flynn used his prior position to choose sides, bolstering big business at the expense of workers and their fundamental rights,” the UFCW leader concluded.

Berry, the IG, said Flynn sent Schaumber “deliberative, pre-decisional information protected from disclosure” plus privileged attorney-client information. Berry also noted that Schaumber last September – while getting the communications from Flynn – became a labor issues consultant to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Flynn also sent to Schaumber “lead case lists, pre-decisional votes and positions of the members, the identity of counsel assigned to a case, the status of cases, the researching issues in cases, the deliberation of the former chairman in a case, the desire of two members to press forward in a case, and the analysis of the board’s resolution on” pending rules governing union recognition elections, the IG report says.

“Improper disclosure of information to former members Kirsanow and Schaumber amounted to a conversion of the information for the private benefit of Kirsanow and his client, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Schaumber’s labor relations consulting and/or legal practice,” Berry’s report concludes.



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