National Labor Relations Board member Terence F. Flynn, a Republican, has resigned amid fallout from a May 2 Inspector General (IG) report alleging he improperly shared data on pending NLRB cases with former Chairman Peter Schaumber and others.
The controversy dates back to March, when NLRB IG David P. Berry released a preliminary report that drew similar conclusions. But Flynn repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing, and in his resignation letter to President Barack Obama and Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, dated May 25, Flynn makes no mention of the allegations.
His July 24 departure will leave the five-person NLRB with three Democrats and only one Republican. Flynn has recused himself from any future board cases.
In the reports, Berry alleged, among other things, that Flynn had shared confidential information on pending cases to private management attorneys and provided Schaumber with confidential analyses prepared for board members related to the panel’s new rule governing procedures for workplace unionization elections.
Following the release of the May 2 report, some Democratic lawmakers and union leaders heightened their calls for Flynn’s resignation. “The conduct described in the reports breaches the most fundamental trust placed in a federal employee, particularly one entrusted to be an impartial adjudicator,” Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wrote in a May 8 letter to Flynn.
But some industry officials say they believe that Flynn was not given an adequate chance to respond to the allegations. “It’s most unfortunate that Flynn was pushed into resigning under circumstances where he didn’t have full opportunity to defend himself,” says Denise Gold, associate general counsel for the Associated General Contractors. “The result is a heavy imbalance, with three members from one party and one from the other.”
She adds, “I think it’s another example of many [that show] how criticisms against the board and board members are often politically motivated regardless of which administration” is in office.
Flynn was one of three board members whom Obama appointed in January. The others were Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin. All three of those appointments are controversial, however. In a case being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Noel Canning, a small business operating in Washington state, is challenging the validity of any decisions made by the present board because Block, Griffin and Flynn were appointed while the Senate technically was in session, the firm asserts.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace have intervened in the case in support of Noel Canning.
Meanwhile, board members will continue to deliberate and process cases, the four remaining board members said in a joint statement issued on May 29. Cases that had been assigned to Flynn will be reassigned. Pearce said, “We are moving quickly to put the distractions of recent weeks behind us and to return the focus to where it belongs – on the issues and cases that American workers bring to us every day.”